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Old man Reeves is ready to lead young Wildcats

Getting Reeves back was massive for the Cats as they look to return to the Final Four in 2023-24.

Antonio Reeves Jason Marcum - A Sea Of Blue

The roster for the Kentucky Wildcats this year is, not surprising to anyone, one of the youngest in the country but loaded with talented freshmen.

However, the Cats returned a massive veteran piece for this season when Antonio Reeves announced that he would be back in Lexington.

The fifth-year senior will be the most experienced player on John Calipari’s roster this season, especially when you take into account the fact that he already has one year under his belt in John Calipari’s system and knows what a program like Kentucky takes to be successful.

#12 Antonio Reeves

  • Position: Shooting guard
  • Class: Fifth-year senior
  • Measurements: 6-foot-5, 205 lbs.
  • Hometown: Chicago, IL
  • School: Simeon High School/Illinois State
  • Recruit Rankings: Unranked in the class of 2019 via 247 Sports Composite.

After starting his college career at Illinois State, Reeves decided to transfer and take his talents to Lexington, where he quickly showed just how good of a scorer he was.

Reeves averaged 14.4 points per game last season and led the Cats in three-point shooting as he shot 39% from deep. Reeves also averaged 2.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and shot 78% from the free-throw line.

During his first season in Lexington, Reeves was named the SEC Sixth Man of the Year after playing in all 34 games but making just 14 starts, with most of those coming in the back half of the season.

The most impressive outing of the year from Reeves came in a road win over Arkansas when he poured in a career-high 37 points on 12/17 shooting from the field and was 11/11 from the free-throw line.

We saw just how good Reeves can be for this year’s team during the team’s preseason trip to Canada for the GLOBL JAM event that saw the Cats bring home the Gold Medal.

Reeves was named the 2023 GLOBL JAM MVP after averaging 22.5 points per game. In the Gold Medal Game triumph over Team Canada, the fifth-year senior scored 16 on 6/12 shooting (4/8 3PT) to go with two rebounds and two assists with no turnovers.

For the event, Reeves drilled 16 of his 28 three-point attempts for an outstanding 58% clip.

One of the weaknesses for the Cats in recent years has been scoring in the halfcourt. Reeves was one guy last season who could get you a bucket in the halfcourt when you needed it.

However, Kentucky has a lot of athletic guards that can get to the rim this season, which should provide a lot of half-court scoring help and make Reeves even more effective in that area.

There will (and should) be a lot of hype heading into the season for what we could see from Reeves, and when you pair his scoring ability with the No. 1 overall recruiting class, it could shape up to be a special season in Lexington.

Following an exhibition win over Kentucky State, head coach John Calipari spoke on how Reeves has improved heading into his final year of college hoops. A big part of that is Reeves becoming a more vocal leader.

“He is so much more at ease. He talks so much more,” Calipari said of Reeves. “When you walk into this program, it’s difficult. And there’s a ton of anxiety. ‘Am I good enough? What is going on?’

“Every team you play, like even Kentucky State, made shots to start this game, like everybody does against us. And, so, that was hard. Finding his way within that team was hard. But by the end of the year, he was really an effective player.”

Calipari expanded on what Reeves focused on improving this offseason.

“Now, he is more physical. Now, he will mix it up. Now, he talks more on defense. And offensively, you know, he’s figured out how do I get to the rim some. He is way better than he was a year ago.”

Reeves shined bright last season for the Cats, and we should expect to see him shine bright once again in 2023-24.

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