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Kentucky Wildcats remain in top 10 of new ESPN rankings

This has Kentucky as the top-ranked SEC team.

Chris Humphrey - Sea of Blue

The Kentucky Wildcats are one of just six programs bringing in two 5-star recruits. However, it’s a far more talented roster than just those two, as the program accepted a plethora of transfers and has a few key players left over from last season.

While they’ll be one of the best teams in the nation, they barely cracked the top 10 of ESPN’s most recent way-too-early top 25. They came in at No. 9, yet were the top SEC team.

With the top overall prospect and several key returning starters, Gonzaga, who lost the national championship game to Baylor, tops the list. After losing many starters, Baylor comes in at No. 10.

As for Kentucky, the combination of both new players and experienced ones should help them thrive, but there are still concerns.

“On paper, the five I’ve listed below as Kentucky’s projected starting lineup would seem to make the most sense, with one potential issue: shooting. Sahvir Wheeler led the SEC in assists and was one of the best playmakers in the league, but he made 22.8% of his 3s last season. TyTy Washington has 6-foot-4 size and was a five-star recruit, but in five games at the Geico Nationals and the NIBC Invitational last season, he shot 25.7% from 3. Keion Brooks Jr. brings versatility and experience, but he has made 11 3-pointers in 47 career games. Davidson transfer Kellan Grady is a terrific shooter, but it wouldn’t surprise me if John Calipari went with Iowa transfer CJ Fredrick or senior Davion Mintz for long stretches alongside Grady on the wings. Fredrick was one of the best shooters in college basketball over the past two seasons, making 47% of his 3s. Mintz made the most 3s on the Wildcats last season, and he is a career 36% 3-point shooter. It might be difficult to bench Wheeler or Washington, but the offense could flow better with two shooters,” Jeff Borzello wrote.

Borzello is right, but even with this much talent, there are still questions. I wouldn’t look too into how this team is judged now. They lacked shooting last year, and they got it this offseason in CJ Fredrick and Kellan Grady. They lacked consistent playmaking, and they recruited it in TyTy Washington.

This team should be much better positioned to play a similar style to the Tyrese Maxey and Immanuel Quickley-led roster from a few seasons ago.

For now, just sit back and hope that, with a full preseason and fans in the stands, this program can return to dominance.