After a 9-16 season, we enter what could be the most important offseason of the John Calipari era at Kentucky.
It has now been six seasons since the Cats made a trip to the Final Four and next season will be a decade since Kentucky won the national championship in 2012.
The BBN is frustrated with the way things went this season and this offseason could determine the direction this program takes going forward with Cal at the helm.
Ben Roberts of the Lexington Herald Leader laid out five important questions for this offseason that will be answered by the end of the Summer.
The most obvious is who will return to Kentucky?
This is no doubt the most important question this offseason as Kentucky has a lot of players that “should” return, but will they?
As of right now, Devin Askew is back for a sophomore season and signs point to Dontaie Allen joining him in returning.
However, Cam’Ron Fletcher has already entered the transfer portal, which was expected, leaving Keion Brooks, Davion Mintz, Jacob Toppin, Lance Ware, Olivier Sarr, B.J. Boston, and Terrence Clarke with decisions to make.
Obviously, not all of those players will be back, but it is important the Calipari returns a big chunk of them to prevent a situation like we had this season where Keion Brooks was the only player who saw minutes in 2019-20.
Aside from on the court struggles, Calipari needs to see a lot of these players return to help some of the fan disgruntlement settle.
Then the main question becomes who will Kentucky add to the roster?
As of right now, Kentucky has just three players singed for next season which would be the smallest class in the Calipari era. However, if enough players from this year’s team return to offset that then everything is fine.
On the other hand, if we have another mass exodus from the roster then Calipari will have to look somewhere else to fill out his roster.
Unfortunately, it is unlikely that happens through the high school ranks.
Jaden Hardy, Trevor Keels and Hunter Sallis are the players with scholarship offers from Kentucky, but the Cats are not believed to be the leader for any of them.
Kentucky also reached out to TyTy Washington after he decommitted from Creighton, but it is too early to tell if Kentucky is a serious contender.
And Kentucky has obviously reached out to Justin Powell, and it sounds like a promising situation if the SEC adjusts its intraconference transfer rules.
Other than that, it will come down to the transfer market for Kentucky to fill out the rest of its 2021-22 roster.
But what all of this really boils down to is will John Calipari actually make any big changes to how he runs Kentucky basketball?
This season has been rather eye-opening when it comes to Calipari’s system. He has been criticized on the recruiting front and his offense was described as “archaic” by an NBA analyst.
After going 9-16 this season and seeing the top teams play a completely different style of basketball than we are right now, will Calipari change his style, or will he just blame COVID and call it a fluke?
Unfortunately, Roberts seems to suggest that change is not on the horizon.
“From what we’ve seen publicly and heard behind the scenes, it doesn’t sound like that will be the case. Calipari has repeatedly talked about the unique repercussions that COVID-19 brought to this team — and he’s not wrong there — but that overlooks some serious flaws in the way this past roster and other recent ones have been built. Too many post players and not enough guards. Too many guards and not enough post players. Plenty of length and athleticism, but not enough shooting or offensive versatility.”
Maybe as the offseason progresses, Cal will see that some things need to change with style of play, and we need to stop losing 7-8 players every season when some of them have no business taking a chance on the NBA just yet.
Obviously, Kentucky is going to be ranked right back in the top 25 heading into next season and the hype will be there. However, we will have to see if anything is different once the ball is tipped.
You can see the other big offseason questions that have to be answered according to Ben Roberts here.