Times have changed since John Calipari took over in Lexington. With NIL and the transfer portal ushering in a new era of college athletics, things are completely different from when Calipari molded the one-and-done model that allowed him to have a stranglehold on the sport in the early 2010s.
The question now becomes how well off is the Kentucky Wildcats program entering Calipari’s 14th season, after a brutal loss in the NCAA Tournament and one of the worst seasons in program history.
Bookies.com has released a new system that puts together some data to see which program has the making to be the next college basketball dynasty. In the newest rankings the Cats are getting some love coming in at No. 4 overall. Kentucky is tied with North Carolina with 84 points overall
Leading the way in the rankings is Kansas with 90 points, followed by Gonzaga with 89, and Villanova with 85.
The categories that are taken into account are; coaching experience, future program stability, program stability, program history, recent regular-season results, recent tournament results, recent and future recruiting, roster and player development, conference positioning, and budget/resources available to the program.
Josh Markowitz who works for Bookies.com had this to say about the Cats;
“Although the rest of the SEC has improved and Kentucky has won just one regular-season title and one conference tournament title in the last five seasons, the Wildcats still typically operate at a level above the rest of the conference. They have the nation’s second-highest basketball expenditure behind Duke and the Blue Devils are also the only team that has recruited in the same stratosphere as Kentucky since John Calipari became the head coach in 2009.
While Calipari is pivoting somewhat to a more transfer-driven model to try and combat the roster continuity issues and overreliance on freshmen that have at times plagued the Wildcats, he continues to recruit high schoolers at an elite level. With National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe returning to school, Kentucky will be in a rare position next year.
A more veteran-heavy roster with 5-star freshmen Cason Wallace and Chris Livingston mixed in may just be what gets the Wildcats back to their first Final Four since 2015. The Kentucky faithful are certainly hoping the 63-year-old Calipari can adapt and hang some more banners before he leaves Lexington.”
Looking back over the last several seasons, seeing the Cats come in this high is intriguing. But it does show the state the program is in.
Despite the struggles Kentucky is still one of the biggest brands in the sport, and will stay that way for years to come.
Now let’s get to August so we can watch this team win some games in the Bahamas.