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You want veterans? You got veterans.


One of the biggest complaints of John Calipari’s time at Kentucky is that he has been too reliant on freshmen.

The One-and-Done Era, as it is known around here.

Many say it is impossible to win when your best players are not even a year removed from their senior prom; so far, they’re not wrong. Cal’s only championship team had two superstar freshmen in Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, plus a starting point guard, Marquis Teague, in his first and only season of college basketball. But they played with two great sophomores in Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones, as well as a senior leader in Darius Miller.

Kentucky’s 2019-20 roster will look more like that one than some of Calipari’s other teams in Lexington. With this week’s news that both Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley will be back for a second year, he will have at least two experienced guards in the backcourt. Another one, Tyler Herro, is still undecided, although the likely scenario is he is gone to the NBA. And another one, Jemarl Baker, is expected to be back but could always pursue the transfer route. For now there is no reason not to include him.

On the inside, Kentucky will have a sophomore in EJ Montgomery, a junior in Nick Richards, and a grad transfer in Nate Sestina. Calipari will likely add another big man to that mix (hopefully Matthew Hurt, a freshman) to go along with the four other highly-rated incoming players from the high school ranks.

If the season started tomorrow, UK’s starting five would likely go sophomore, freshman, freshman, sophomore and junior, with a sophomore and a grad transfer as the first two players off the bench. If you’re one of the many who have grown tired of watching freshman mistakes early on each season (and even in the tournament), you have to like the experience Kentucky will have right out of the gate next fall.

This is how the projected rotation looks as of this very minute:

G – Ashton Hagans, Sophomore
G – Tyrese Maxey, Freshman
F – Khalil Whitney, Freshman
F – EJ Montgomery, Sophomore
C – Nick Richards, Junior

G – Immanuel Quickley, Sophomore
F – Nate Sestina, Senior
G – Jemarl Baker, Redshirt Sophomore
F – Keion Brooks, Freshman
F – Dontaie Allen, Freshman

Three experienced guards, three experienced bigs and four freshmen with a ton of potential.

You like your team?

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

42 responses to “You want veterans? You got veterans.”

  1. truBLU

    Let’s hope we pick up another guard or 2, maybe try a grad transfer? Even a julius Mays would be a nice addition to this roster.

    1. NYCCatsFan

      Sestina gotta start, no?

      Or why would any future grad transfer come here?

    2. rickwhitetx

      I would certainly like to see a lot of off season development from Nick and E.J.

    3. Ridge Runner

      You’ll see it with EJ.

    4. recliner coach

      Nick has the talent to block shots, rebound and the 10 ft baseline jumper and makes free throws for the most part from what I can remember ( stat guys there u go ). His confidence wasnt wasn’t there because he got yanked every time he made a mistake. When he gets some minutes where doesn’t have to play timid, he will succeed

  2. Han

    Many of the people who whine about not having experienced vets (like many of the ones we saw make deep runs into the tourney) also turn around and say they don’t want Hagans playing or they hope we get this recruit or that recruit because they’re better than our returning player.

    While there are some freshmen who are transcendent (and we’ve had some), it’s really “grass is always greener” and “backup QB is better” BS.

    I’m looking forward to seeing these guys develop more, take pressure off the incoming freshmen, and actually know Cal’s system and leave him more time to coach instead of teaching as much.

    Sure, I still want the top freshmen recruits, but if Hagans can play the way he did for a couple months, giving us suffocating on-ball D, we’re in for a treat.

  3. addyjaxlarkin

    No way nick Richards starts… and if I am wrong it will be a very LONG season.

    1. WatchutalkinboutWillis

      Agreed, Dream is always very optimistic about Richards. Montgomery and Sestina start and Brooks comes in next probably.

    2. BlakeBlueNation

      Sestina won’t start either, he isn’t that good. Role player at best for this team. I’d put Brooks in at PF then move EJ to center

    3. 54Meeks

      absolutely true. This team is one big man away from being great. Richards is really hard to watch.

    4. ScottGreene22

      Richards needs to learn to contribute even if it’s 10-15 minutes a game. Rebound blocks dunks and not get lost on Defense and foul. He does that and he will be a major contributor on this team and play a long time in the league or overseas.

    5. 1IH

      Nick Richards started all year in 2017/18 Season

  4. Smyrna_Cat

    To call Herro “undecided” is amazingly misleading.

  5. Ridge Runner

    My only non expectation is Nick. Hope I’m wrong however. The rest (vets) excite me with improved play potential. Filling a huge hole from PJ by “anyone” will be critical.

  6. VirginiaCat

    The returning veterans had a total of 46 more turnovers than assists. They shot a combined 45% from the field and 29% from deep and averaged 72% from the line. Hope the new recruits can protect the ball and shoot from deep. Hopefully Cal will stand good on his promise to recruit only those who can shoot the ball.

    1. 4everUKblue

      If you’re not happy here, find another team.

    2. J-Dub421

      That’s the problems with jerks like you and trashburn, Virginia. You claim to hate the one-and-done’s and want veterans, but then when we actually return players, you still aren’t happy because you think anyone who’s returning sucks. You’re just miserable people, who are impossible to please and want to spread your misery.

    3. chardun20

      J-Dub421 you are 100% correct, some people can never be satisfied.

  7. mashburnfan1

    Difference in 2012 and this upcoming season is the returning players in 2012 we knew what we had and it was very good scoring help and leadership. Next years returning guys? Richards has done nothing in 2 years and could not get 5 minutes in last 2 games of SO season. Hagans & EJ I really like what they could be and Quickley we don’t know. Baker was never a great maker, took lots of shots in High School but not a great % of makes. Now the FR, like you said at this point they are just potential. If 2 can be at least very good {I don’t expect them to be AD} and the returning guys improve I like our chances, if they are like the last couple of classes then we are a top 20 team with no title shot again.

    1. 4everUKblue

      We know what you bring every time you return mashbumKfanboy and that is always a load of sh!t.

    2. mashburnfan1

      Please provide anything untrue about what I said, here or another post. Waiting……..

    3. catsarerunnin

      If you’re waiting for a brain you’re in for a long wait. Suck it Slater.

    4. lexslamman

      The thing about opinions we deem “bad” is that they’re neither true nor untrue – they’re opinions, and we’re free to render our opinions about them without having to go through a tit-for-tat dismissal of every individual point.

      That having been said, we do need one more big body on this team for it to be really good. Otherwise this is a transition/rebuilding year. The basketball will still be fun to watch, so there’s really no good reason to bellyache about it.

    5. CATandMONKEY

      It is actually a universal axiom that Mash’s opinions are sh!t.

      Mash and Slater are two different people.
      Slater is just a troll.

      Mash, well the issue is: He actually BELIEVES the nonsensical emmissions arising from his keyboard.

    6. ClutchCargo

      It seems that Slater got his big ol blue ass banned awhile back.

  8. ukwildcat1991

    A veteran is more of a junior or senior but I get what you are saying

    1. mashburnfan1

      Used to be {still is at most programs}, not so much now. If you are a JR at UK you failed, that is obviously not true but seems to be the perception. Is why most transfer if not drafted after year 2. That is not the case for guys that don’t play, they are just here to be part of UK, probably lifelong fans. Any major playing time member.

    2. catsarerunnin

      Suck it Slater

  9. Bluebloodtoo

    I have been thinking the last few years that Cal not getting the top 5 recruits each year would actually create this scenario more often. So…taking a big jump here, but… maybe that’s been his intention?

    1. IheartRex

      More like a good plan B.

    2. Luether

      More like he’s being out-recruited by Dook…

  10. KYJelly

    The same people who complain about not having veterans are the same ones who complain about Cal missing on the top guys

    1. Bluebloodtoo

      That seems…well… Like they just don’t like Cal and don’t have a legitimate reason so they are looking for one.

  11. wildcat2012

    Keion will be our 7th off the bench.

  12. a21CATSfan

    Sorry folks, but Keion Brooks is not coming off of the bench. Him and Khalil Whitney will be the two most versatile players on the team. And did I miss the announcement that EJ was definitely coming back and the creation of a Junior Nick Richards? CATS

  13. Wade

    Herro please

  14. Fitz

    Not very convincing as to a veterern team,

  15. UK Maine-iac

    In the unlikely circumstance Keldon and Herro return, do we dare start using the word “platoon” again?

    I’m also loving the people who despise the OAD, but then complain when players return. In the real world we call you people curmudgeons. Go paint a picture, take a long nature hike, or at least attempt to add some joy to your misery.

    1. 1IH

      All of this ^^^^^

  16. dballrb

    Nope,don’t like my team w/h Herro.

  17. Glock

    I still say use every available scholarship

  18. JT55

    Still hurting inside. The kid from Bucknell is a stretch player. And neither EJ, or Nick are the answer inside. Hoping for another Grad transfer inside. Should be fine at guard.