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How would you grade Kentucky Basketball’s offseason?

As we prepare to see this team in action for the first time, how do you view the roller-coaster offseason?

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament Quarterfinals - Kentucky vs Vanderbilt Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

We are about to watch the 2023-2024 Kentucky Wildcats in summer action in Canada, but the ride from Kentucky’s loss to Kansas State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to this point has certainly been a roller-coaster.

This offseason has brought up a lot of concerns within the Kentucky Basketball program, and understandably so, but there are some positives to look at as well, which makes grading this offseason a tough task.

On one hand, Kentucky’s portal misses this offseason can’t be overlooked.

Kentucky was a finalist for Hunter Dickinson, viewed by most as the top player in the transfer portal. Dickinson ultimately went to Kansas, with NIL being viewed as the most influencing factor. Dickinson isn’t a perfect player by any means, but he would’ve been a major get for Kentucky.

From there, Kentucky also missed on San Diego State’s Keshad Johnson and Creighton’s Arthur Kaluma. Those two aren’t as highly ranked as Dickinson, but both were guys Kentucky heavily targeted.

Kentucky also had its fair share of losses in the portal, with Sahvir Wheeler (Washington), Daimion Collins (LSU), Lance Ware (Villanova), and CJ Fredrick (Cincinnati) all leaving for other programs.

The offseason also raised some concerns about Kentucky’s position in the college basketball NIL world, although that seems to have been remedied some in recent weeks.

But with those negatives, there are a lot of reasons for optimism coming out of this offseason.

First of all, John Calipari has assembled one of his best recruiting classes in recent years, led by the trio of DJ Wagner, Justin Edwards, and Aaron Bradshaw, all of which are viewed as top 10 prospects.

That doesn’t include guys like Rob Dillingham and Reed Sheppard, who are labeled as 4-star recruits but are expected to be heavy contributors.

Calipari also went late in the recruiting cycle and added three-star recruits Jordan Burks and Joey Hart to fill out the class.

Calipari has done some of his best work at Kentucky with star-studded freshman talent, and that theory will be put to the test this year.

And while Kentucky had its struggles in the portal, landing West Virginia’s Tre Mitchell was a significant late-stage portal win. Mitchell figures to be a starter or a key rotation piece for the Wildcats and be a veteran leader among a group that is filled with talent but lacks experience.

On the coaching staff, Kentucky lost KT Turner after just one year as Turner took the head coach job at UT-Arlington. However, the additions of Chuck Martin and John Welch have been drawing a lot of praise.

The early indications are that Welch, who comes from an NBA background having spent time with the Los Angeles Clippers, has gained the trust of Calipari in terms of offensive strategy and has helped bring more analytics into the program. The game-planning and scouting area has seemingly been a concern since the departure of John Robic, and it seems like Welch is heavily involved in that area.

Although he hasn't been on staff very long, Martin has earned praise as a recruiter and player development/relationship guy, another needed area on the Kentucky staff.

Ultimately, this offseason will be decided by what happens on the court.

If Kentucky comes out and wins games, the concerns of the offseason will be erased from memory.

If Kentucky struggles and has another early tournament exit, things will not be good in the Big Blue Nation.

Overall, I think John Calipari had a really rough start to the offseason but has done a solid job of turning things around late.

How would you grade Kentucky Basketball’s offseason? Sound off in the poll below and in the comments section!

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