The addition of Reid Travis and the return of PJ Washington has shot Kentucky to the top of most odds lists and way-too-early top 25’s for the 2018-19 season.
That’s the case for the team’s standing with CBS Sports, and it’s almost the case for Sports Illustrated as well.
Here’s what CBS’ Gary Parrish had to say about UK.
Two of the top five scorers -- specifically PJ Washington and Quade Green -- are back from a team that advanced to the Sweet 16. Plus, graduate-transfer Reid Travis has committed. Plus, the nation’s No. 2 recruiting class -- that improved in June when five-star point guard Ashton Hagans reclassified -- is set to enroll. So the Wildcats, on paper, look like the nation’s best team.
John Calipari took this team from meh to loaded real quick, and not a minute too soon. Parrish’s thoughts are representative of most national experts, who see the late additions to the recruiting class and the addition of Reid Travis as the big push that gets Kentucky to the top.
Sports Illustrated still favors the Kansas Jayhawks, as Molly Geary has them at No. 1 with Kentucky right behind them. The Wildcats were previously No. 5.
The Wildcats got P.J. Washington, Nick Richards and Quade Green back from their 2017 freshman class, then jumped up to this year’s No. 2 recruiting class with the late commitment of five-star forward E.J. Montgomery, the No. 9 player in the 2018 class. They didn’t stop there, landing Stanford leading scorer Reid Travis as a grad transfer and getting 2019 five-star Ashton Hagans to reclassify to the class of 2018. The addition of Travis, who averaged 19.5 points and 8.7 rebounds in the Pac-12 last season, provides some veteran leadership to what will again be a young but loaded Kentucky squad.
Geary puts a lot of stock in Kansas’ returning players, as well as their addition of transfers who’ve spent a year practicing with the team as they wait to be eligible. The youth in Kentucky seems to be what keeps the Wildcats from jumping to No. 1 here, but Calipari is returning more players than usual and adding a graduate transfer, so if youth hasn’t stopped him in the past it certainly won’t stop him now.