The Kentucky Wildcats’ 83-72 victory over Ole Miss on Tuesday night secured another undefeated home slate under head coach John Calipari, their sixth during his tenure.
The win was also the final game a few Wildcats will play Rupp Arena (at least wearing Kentucky blue). While we are certain of some Wildcats that will be leaving, others could follow suit just as much as they could return for another year in Lexington. Below we’ll take a look at who that might be.
Graduate transfers Davion Mintz and Kellan Grady both said goodbye to Rupp Arena on Tuesday night. The two veterans have played their role beautifully this year and sacrificed much bigger roles on other teams for a chance to play for the greatest tradition in college basketball.
Mintz knew when he decided to come back, just as Grady knew coming in, that Kentucky wouldn’t be short on guards this year.
When healthy, Sahvir Wheeler and TyTy Washington have dominated minutes with even Bryce Hopkins seeing an uptick in playing time every now and then. Yet Mintz and Grady accepted their roles, put their head down and played as hard as they possibly could for the Wildcats this season. They’ll both be missed more than we realize and Kentucky will have major shoes to fill next season.
Most-likely joining them will be TyTy Washington. Projected as a top-10 pick in a mock draft published by NBC Sports, Washington won’t want to risk any further injuries by coming back to school. While he’s been a key part in creating offense for Kentucky and has utilized his Name/Image/Likeness opportunities, there isn’t a world where Washington isn’t playing in the NBA next season. So, enjoy him while you can. This season flew by incredibly fast with the postseason likely coming and going in the blink of an eye.
Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky’s fan-favorite and National Player of the Year frontrunner, would normally be a name that is included in the list of players not returning for another year. However, Tshiebwe isn’t just a normal basketball player. He takes an incredible amount of pride in wearing the Kentucky jersey (as does the entire team) and has a unique connection with Big Blue Nation.
There have also been reports of a multi-million dollar NIL deal on the table if Tshiebwe returns for another year with Kentucky. Not only could he set himself up further down the road financially, but Tshiebwe also has an excellent opportunity to return to school and improve his game. This decision would be a dream-come-true for John Calipari, but the junior big man could still decide it’s time to begin his NBA career.
While there could very well be more shuffling of this roster, it’s likely that there could also be some continuity established heading into next fall. Kentucky’s three main departures are expected to be at the guard position — creating more opportunities for the likes of Hopkins and Wheeler if they return.
Add in another year of growth from Jacob Toppin, Keion Brooks and Lance Ware, and we could be looking at another special season.
Tweet of the Day
This is peak television. Watching it there are at least four separate moments where it's impossible to believe how much time is still left. pic.twitter.com/scJqdYFn1U— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) March 2, 2022
This will drive you insane.
VIDEO: Kentucky Senior Day 2022 Ceremony - Cats Illustrated
Really going to miss these guys.
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First loss of the year for the Wildcats.
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Defense needs to tighten up before next week.
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Will we see a season this year?
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Offensive Line University.
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Anyone else ready to move on from this?
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Is this right or wrong?
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Could the former college star be on the move?