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Early Thoughts On UK’s Starting 5

Who hits the floor first for the Cats next season?

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Let em know, PJ
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Now that upcoming roster for next season’s is largely set—save, of course, for Reid Travis’ upcoming decision—it’s as good a time as any to start speculating on what the starting five might look like.

Upcoming rotations are also ripe for discussion. Because Travis is still open in his recruitment between UK and Villanova, we’ll use the following roster as our baseline:

  • Immanuel Quickley, 6-3 Freshman, Guard
  • Jemarl Baker 6-4 Freshman, Guard
  • Tyler Herro 6-5 Freshman, Guard
  • Zan Payne 6-5 Freshman, Guard
  • EJ Montgomery, 6-10 Freshman, Forward
  • Keldon Johnson 6-6 Freshman, Forward
  • Nick Richards 6-11 Sophomore, Forward
  • PJ Washington 6-7 Sophomore, Forward
  • Quade Green 6-0 Sophomore, Guard
  • Ashton Hagans 6-4 Freshman, Guard
  • Brad Calipari 6-0 Junior, Guard
  • Jonny David 6-2 Senior, Guard

The first thing that jumps out is there’s a lot of versatility with this roster, something Coach Calipari is well aware of. If Coach Cal wants to run 5 guards at the same time, he can do so. UK can also go big with a lineup of Hagans, Montgomery, Johnson, Washington, Richards, and Quickley, with each player being 6-3 or taller.

Another attractive feature of this roster is Calipari has flexibility regarding shooters. With Green, Herro, and Baker, UK can have at least one perimeter shooter on the floor at all times, a luxury that was absent from last year’s team.

Furthermore, UK can run all three shooters at the same time, coupled with a combination of Richards, Washington, and Montgomery at the forwards. Such a lineup would have little trouble creating enough space for the big men to go to work on the inside. It would also prevent teams from collapsing down on the bigs.

So yeah, while we’ve only just scratched the surface for the team’s versatility—something that will only increase if Travis and Hagans join—what do you think the initial starting 5 will be?

As of right this second, I would imagine some combination of Green, Quickley, Hagans, Johnson, Washington, Richards, and Montgomery will be on the floor when tip-off comes. Travis would also be considered with that initial group if he decides to join 2018-19 roster.

There have already been rumblings that Calipari does not want to go back to the platoon system, but he’d consider if it benefited the team. Calipari is, however, happy with having so many guards on his roster. So much so, in fact, he referenced Villanova starting four guards during their championship run last season.

With that in mind, it’s a good bet UK fans will see something similar, especially during the “tinkering phase” of the upcoming season.