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The best, worst, and likely case for UK’s frontcourt next season


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This weekend Kentucky will host five-star forward Matthew Hurt for his first official visit and there’s no denying how important of a recruit Hurt is for the Cats. UK has missed on big target after big target in the class of 2019, and only a few more remain. Here’s a look at UK’s best, worst, and most likely scenario for how the frontcourt situation plays out for the 2019-2020 season. For this exercise none of these scenarios include grad-transfers or 2020 players reclassifying. While both of those options are in play, and possibly even likely, we don’t have any names. Also, I’m trying to keep it somewhat realistic. Obviously the best care scenario will be bullish and worst bearish, but I’m trying to keep everything in reason and somewhat realistic.

Best Case:

The best case scenario is easy- Kentucky lands Matthew Hurt, one of Jaden McDaniels/Keion Brooks and hell, throw in five-star shooting guard Anthony Edwards while we’re at it. Then assuming UK would return at least one of Nick Richards or EJ Montgomery and the Cats would be locked and absolutely loaded for another season. The Edwards addition may seem bizarre when discussing UK’s ideal frontcourt for next season, but it makes sense. If the Cats landed Edwards, it would give UK more options on who to play at the four. Kahlil Whitney would get more run at that spot. The one addition of McDaniels/Brooks would allow them a more versatile role and you’d play EJ or Nick at the five. Hurt would also play a variety of positions. The addition of Edwards wouldn’t give you clarity on how the roster would look exactly, but you’d know you’d have enough talented players that are versatile enough to make something work.

That best case scenario is actually probably an abundance of players. It would give UK four players that could play a frontcourt position, where currently there is just one (Whitney) and some would possibly consider that a stretch (although I would disagree). I feel confident about one of Richards/Montgomery returning, so assuming that happens that would make two. They obviously need to land Hurt and one of McDaniels/Brooks to give UK four options on the frontcourt, even though just Hurt/Richards/Montgomery would be able to play the five. Three options for the frontcourt is a must for next season as UK couldn’t enter the season with just two post players. Foul trouble and possible injuries could ruin UK’s season before it even starts. Three bigs is minimum but four would make everyone feel warm and fuzzy heading into next season.

If UK could have a lineup like this next season, watch out:

PG: Tyrese Maxey (Green, Quickley, Hagans)

SG: Anthony Edwards (Green, Quickley, Hagans, Allen)

SF: Kahlil Whitney (Allen)

PF: Matthew Hurt (McDaniels/Brooks)

C: Richards/Montgomery

And that roster doesn’t include Tyler Herro (but does include all three PGs returning, which probably isn’t likely), who’s currently not being projected as a first rounder and could very easily return for a sophomore season. Regardless of UK’s recent recruiting misses, if the team looks something like that heading into next season it’s going to once again be a preseason top five team and rightfully so. That would be the nation’s best offense before they’d ever even play a game.

Worst Case:

Again, we’re trying to keep it somewhat in reason because the worst case scenario would lead to UK missing on Hurt, McDaniels and Brooks (along with Isaiah Stewart but I don’t see a scenario he ends up at UK so I’m already banking on that) and would also include all of UK’s current frontcourt players darting for the NBA. That’s the worst case. To briefly entertain that idea UK would have to hit up the grad-transfer market big time and probably try to get a few other 2019 players that aren’t UK caliber to commit to Kentucky just so they had bodies.

I don’t see that happening.

In a more realistic worst-case scenario the Cats miss on Hurt and McDaniels, but land just Brooks in 2019. Nick Richards returns for a junior season and UK’s roster looks something like this:

PG: Quade Green (Quickley, Hagans)

SG: Tyrese Maxey (Quickley, Hagans, Allen)

SF: Kahlil Whitney (Allen)

PF: Keion Brooks

C: Nick Richards

Is that lineup making the NCAA Tournament? Duh. Could that team make a run? Sure. UK went to the Final Four with Josh Harrellson starting. But that is the thinnest frontcourt in UK history and it would become critical for UK to land at least one grad-transfer. And yes, I think even in a realistic worst case scenario UK lands one of Hurt, Brooks or McDaniels. For this exercise I picked Brooks just because he would probably be UK’s “worst” option to have to put in the frontcourt.

If that’s the worst case scenario that’s not the end of the world, although it probably wouldn’t be a serious title contender.

My guess:

I haven’t been shy on this site saying I think UK lands Hurt. Of course there was a time (a long time) I thought UK was landing James Wiseman and another time (much shorter) that I thought UK was in a really good spot for Vernon Carey Jr. Point is, things can change in recruiting and do change, but currently I like where UK is at for Hurt.

So he’s included in the most realistic scenario at this time.

Then I think it’s realistic at this point to believe UK lands one of McDaniels/Brooks. I think IU holds a 65/35 lead over UK for Brooks, so McDaniels seems more likely, but things have gone quiet in McDaniels’ recruitment. It’s not a lock that UK lands either, but I think odds are they will land one, so we’ll roll with that.

I don’t expect Anthony Edwards to end up at UK. I do expect one of Richards/Montgomery to return and I wouldn’t be shocked if both came back, but it’s probably more realistic it’s just one. We’ll go with Richards for this exercise.

PG: Green (Quickley, Hagans)

SG: Maxey (Quickley, Hagans, Allen)

SF: Kahlil Whitney (,McDaniels, Allen)

PF: Matthew Hurt (McDaniels)

C: Richards

If that’s how things play out I would expect UK to add a grad-transfer, but there’s no telling the caliber of that player or even guess a name. So ignoring the transfer for now, what would we think of the above roster? It would be a really good scoring team, probably average defensively and thin upfront. It would probably be the type of Calipari team that would struggle on the road, take care of business at home and end up as a four seed in the NCAA Tournament. The talent would be there for a deep run, but consistency would be key.

One thing is for sure, regardless of how the roster turns it it’s shaping up to be a team that’s going to play as fast as any of Calipari’s. That will be fun to watch.

Article written by TJ Walker

21 responses to “The best, worst, and likely case for UK’s frontcourt next season”

  1. CombatMedic_98

    Love reading these articles and then they get so trashy with curse words used…Maturation needed TJ

    1. bigbluebanana

      STFU

  2. BigolBlue

    Pj is looking undrafted so far so he might come back. Oh and Richards 🙁

    1. bigbluebanana

      Thanks for your expert analysis. Just stfu already.

    2. BigolBlue

      Grammar please! What are you saying?

    3. bigbluebanana

      Pretty obvious what I said. You know what “stfu” means. Why do you steal all my stuff and try and use it against me? I’m flattered at how much you’re trying to emulate me. Everything I use against you, you come back and say the exact same thing! Hmmmm…

  3. UKPROF

    I think we better play this season first, before we start worrying about what ‘might be’ next season.

    1. davis2319

      Agreed

    2. ClutchCargo

      Recruiting for next season is happening even during this season. It has always been that way.

    3. Cokely53

      How does us as fans worrying about next year determine how this team gets better? Let fans be fans

  4. UKfanman01

    Best case scenario is that UK has bare minimal leave and be an NBA calibur team next year. TBH, if the draft were today, there are only 2 gone: Travis and Johnson
    Truly I think Johnson would be drafted for pure potential purposes

  5. versaillescorey

    TJ I enjoy your input on almost every post you do. What pisses me off is the KSR jack wagons that rip you every week for doing your job on recruiting!!! Recruitment is nothing guaranteed so to have a take is something to read into!! But for people to be pissed off and rip you a knew one when your wrong is flat out disrespectful and ignorant. For those who rip TJ, write something better or shut your mouth

  6. davis2319

    Richards has the talent of a 4 year player. Heck maybe even a fifth year redshirt

  7. gwhittle

    They really think Hagans is one and done? He’s right now the 4th best guard on this team

    1. gwhittle

      Nevermind. I had missed his name in the article ?

  8. coolclay

    I’m not sold on Hurt. If Duke loses out on Carey and Stewart, Duke gets Him

  9. KYfaninTN

    What about Payne’s son will he play next year?

  10. JASUN74

    Thanks again TJ. NICE WORK!! I believe that everyone is forgetting about our homegrown kid. I may be wrong and it wouldn’t be the first time, but this kid is working as hard as anyone in the country right now. It’s showing when you see him. His body has changed some already since he’s committed to UK and he’s a gym rat. He is a kid in the mold of Alexander. We will see him improve immediately, he’s got great size and got a lot of determination. He’s got the whole State of Kentucky looking at him pulling for him. If he can come here, with the confidence he has now! He will be hard to keep off the floor. I believe he may be a third year guy, but not because he couldn’t have left early, but because he bleeds blue. He’s going to be really fun to watch grow a couple years.

  11. Jiminy Crickets

    Worst case is actually. Stewart and Carey both go to duke, hurt goes to Kansas, and brooks goes to IU. All just as likely to happen as anything you said. Not to mention Whitley has signed his LOI, and nick Richards transfer rumors were strong last year and starting to get loud again.

    1. bigbluebanana

      Can you please source where you’re hearing NR transfer rumors getting loud?

  12. shelby

    I’m of the feeling nick transfers; i’d be a lil surprised if quade comes back. No way does pj come back, he’s gonna spend all of this season jacking 3s to show the nba he can and he’ll go early 2nd round at best. I just don’t see nick coming back to play 3 minutes and get yanked. If one of the quickley/hagans combo doesn’t leave i see a huge glut at the pg spot after adding maxey. This will likely cause chemistry issues.