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Thursday Headlines: Antonio Reeves trending away from Kentucky?

It’s possible Reeves doesn’t return to Kentucky.

Antonio Reeves Dylan Ballard - A Sea of Blue

Not that long ago, it was believed that Antonio Reeves would almost certainly be a part of the 2023-24 Kentucky Basketball roster?

Now, there is some belief that Kentucky’s second-leading scorer from a year ago may not return to Lexington.

Tristan Pharis noted the possibility in a tweet on Monday.

And Kentucky Sports Radio’s Jack Pilgrim said the questions about Reeves deciding against returning to Kentucky comes down to NIL and potential fit with Kentucky’s recruiting class.

Reeves has shifted to the wildcard category, if not likely to leave. It’s a change of tune the school wasn’t anticipating, believing from the beginning the standout scorer would test the waters for feedback from NBA teams before ultimately announcing a return. Now, the grad transfer route is being explored, a path that could be opened by finishing his degree this summer to qualify for immediate eligibility elsewhere.

Keeping his name in the draft hasn’t been ruled out, but a return to college is no longer Kentucky or bust. Why? It comes down to NIL and role. There is concern that the freedom Reeves was able to play with last year won’t be the same with the incoming freshmen taking the majority of touches and spotlight. He wants to expand his role and brand in his final season of eligibility, not take a step back in favor of 18-year-olds. If he’s not going to keep his name in the draft or pursue other pro opportunities now, he wants to make sure a return to college is worth his time as a soon-to-be 23-year-old.

Getting Antonio Reeves back should be one of Kentucky’s top priorities this offseason.

Bringing back a guy who averaged more than 14 points per game that provides a veteran presence as someone who has experience at Kentucky (I think that’s key here) should be a top-level concern for this coaching staff.

The questions about fit are certainly a concern on Reeves’ side. DJ Wagner and Rob Dillingham will play significant roles in the backcourt, but there’s certainly a role for a guy like Reeves who can shoot the ball from deep at about a 40 percent clip, and Reeves could arguably excel even more in that role with more perimeter threats around him.

This offseason has had plenty of Kentucky misses, for a variety of reasons, but I think there could be a valid case that if Antonio Reeves opts to come back to college but enters the transfer portal, it could be one of the biggest hits of the offseason, all things considered.

While not returning to Kentucky is an option, it should be noted there is still a decent chance Reeves does return, so we shouldn't be ready to lose our collective minds just yet. Let’s see how this plays out, and hopefully, Reeves is back in Lexington next season.

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