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Tuesday Headlines: Building a Roster Edition

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The Cats have a few returning pieces to build on with (hopefully) more to come

NCAA Basketball: Vanderbilt at Kentucky Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Under John Calipari, building a roster year-to-year has been a challenge. At Kentucky, roster building is a challenge each year, placing returning players (if any) with incoming freshmen and even more so now, transfers.

This year is no exception, and coming off this disaster of a season, the roster that John Calipari builds to put on the floor in 2021-2022 could be one of the most crucial of his tenure in Lexington.

Kentucky has to be better, and significantly better at that, and one of the first steps is constructing a roster that can win games and compete for a Final Four or National Championship.

Right now, the roster going into next season is almost totally in flux, but Kentucky does have some building blocks going into the offseason.

Devin Askew is planning a return to Lexington. While he struggled quite a bit during his freshman season, Askew has plenty of room to improve and will have an offseason in Lexington to work on his game. Askew was highly-touted coming out of high school, so there should be some optimism that a more normal offseason combined with a year of experience will result in notable improvement.

Another crucial piece is Dontaie Allen. Per a report in the Falmouth Outlook, Allen plans to return for a sophomore season in Lexington. That’s huge news for John Calipari, as he’ll bring back arguably the best perimeter shooter on the roster. Allen’s season at UK this year has been up-and-down, but he’s showed the kind of offensive threat he can be and he’ll have another offseason to build off that while working on his defense to carve out a permanent spot in the rotation.

We know Kentucky is bringing in three freshmen in the form of point guard Nolan Hickman, wing Bryce Hopkins, and big man Daimion Collins. Hickman and Collins are McDonald’s All-Americans while Hopkins has been viewed as an underrated wing who can bring a lot of versatility to the Wildcats.

And then there’s West Virginia transfer Oscar Tshiebwe, arguably the top transfer in college basketball right now.

Tshiebwe played 31 games in his freshman season at WVU, averaging about 11 points and 9 rebounds per game. He saw a dip in production as a sophomore, but Tshiebwe figures to play a key role in Kentucky’s plans next year.

That’s seven players expected to be on the roster next season. The remainder of the roster will be made up of a mix of returning players and transfers. It’s long been assumed that Isaiah Jackson and Olivier Sarr will leave to pursue professional careers, and there’s little to indicate that’s changed.

The same goes for Brandon Boston and Terrence Clarke, although Boston particularly could benefit tremendously from a second year.

Others like Jacob Toppin, Keion Brooks, Lance Ware, and Davion Mintz don’t have a ton of professional options calling, but could pursue basketball careers elsewhere or try to make a G-League roster.

Of course, Kentucky is also looking at transfers like Auburn guard Justin Powell, a Kentucky native, who was playing well before suffering an injury.

Filling out those remaining roster spots will be crucial for the product that Kentucky puts on the floor next season.

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UK Hoops is going dancing and could be a fun ride.

Headlines

John Calipari has to navigate multiple changing landscapes - Cats Pause

Change is going to be crucial.

Rhyne Howard is ready to lead UK Hoops into the tournament - KSR

Big mistake not naming her first-team All-American.

Kentucky Football is focusing on fundamentals this spring - Herald Leader

It’s back to the basics on the gridiron.

Former Cat Bud Dupree is headed to the Titans - ESPN

As a Kentucky and Titans fan, this is exciting.

Who has the best chance to cut down the nets? - Bleacher Report

Hard to bet against Gonzaga, Baylor, or Illinois.

Is Scott Drew the best fit at Indiana? - Yahoo

I personally think it would be interesting if they hired Rick Pitino.

Minnesota firing Richard Pitino - SI

The younger Pitino’s team struggled mightily down the stretch.