The Wildcats currently have one of their worst records in program history, and many fans are starting to check out on the season.
And maybe some players too.
First, the likely departures. Freshmen Brandon Boston Jr., Terrence Clarke and Isaiah Jackson are most likely NBA Draft picks and therefore almost certainly gone. There’s no sense debating whether any of them is ready to be a pro, because the consensus opinion from inside the program and out is that those guys already have bags packed — if they ever unpacked them in the first place.
While that is mostly the case in every season, this season stings a little more because Kentucky is, well, bad.
Still, Jackson is being consistently projected as a top-20 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, and some projections have him cracking the lottery. While he clearly needs a lot of work on his offense, there’s no question he has a world of potential that will get him drafted high this year, so you can’t fault him for going pro.
The same cannot be said for Boston and Clarke, who’ve seen their stock drop so far that several projections have them falling into Round 2. They clearly need more time in college, but at this stage, it seems like there’s very little chance either are back in Lexington come the 2021-22 college basketball season.
However, there is also some positive news regarding this year’s team. Tucker reported that Wildcats guard Davion Mintz could opt in to returning next season, taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility given by the NCAA.
The Creighton transfer is in a two-year graduate program at Kentucky and, according to multiple sources, he’d like to finish that degree. So, thanks to the NCAA granting a free year of eligibility amid this pandemic, there is a real possibility Mintz is back as a sixth-year senior.
If Mintz returns, that would be huge news in terms of giving Kentucky a decent backcourt for next season, especially if Askew returns to Kentucky as we all expect, and the addition of four-star Nolan Hickman.
If the coaching staff gets Mintz to return, that could also mean that Skyy Clark will stay in his original class of 2022 and wait to get to Lexington. But even if Mintz returns, you have to think John Calipari will pursue some transfer guards if Clark does in fact stay in high school next season.
There’s obviously still a lot of moving pieces before the season even ends, so who knows what the 2021-22 roster will wind up looking like. But it’s certainly nice to hear that a surprise player like Mintz could actually be back next season, assuring that the Cats have some much-needed veteran experience in the backcourt, as well as a career 34% shooter from deep for a team that obviously needs a lot of help in that department.