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?