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An in-depth look at UK’s 2018-19 roster, as it stands now


It’s been a hectic few weeks for the basketball world – especially in Kentucky – so no one could blame you if you’ve lost track of all of the recruitments, reclassifications and declarations for the NBA draft. Don’t worry, you’re probably not alone.

With that being said, a LOT still hangs in the balance for Kentucky’s 2018-19 season. Some of our questions could be answered by the end of the week. Others, by the May 30th NBA Draft deadline. And some we might not know until late summer. Here’s everything we know as of now, with predictions and even some *suggestions.*

Point Guards

Ashton Hagans

Status: committed
When news of Hagans’ commitment broke less than two weeks ago, it became pretty obvious he would be the go-to point guard once he arrives at UK – which isn’t surprising, considering he’s the No. 1 point guard in the 2019 class. The question, of course, then becomes: when will he arrive at UK? Although he’s still technically a 2019 recruit, all signs point to a reclassification for 2018.

His commitment announcement, which came the day after 5-star EJ Montgomery’s commitment, continued to boost BBN morale after a disappointing March and the recent announcement of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s departure. Plus, it re-ignited the tradition of John Calipari and star point guards, which is something the Cats lacked this season. Hagans is the real deal, and it’s likely we’ll get to see him in action next season as the Cats’ starting PG.

Immanuel Quickley

Status: signed
He’s another highly-touted point guard for the 2018 class – 24/7 Sports has him listed as the No. 4 point guard in the nation. Quickley is an athlete; he’s just 6-foot-3, but he boasts a 6-foot-7 wingspan. He’s shown he’s a good facilitator, dishing out eight assists and grabbing four rebounds in his 17 minutes off the bench during the McDonalds All-American game. He struggled offensively in that game, ending the night 0-2 from the field. But, we’ve seen he can get hot from the outside. He did tie for first place in the 3-point shootout. Check out Nick Roush’s video:

With a guy like Hagans coming in, you expect to see Quickley coming in off the bench, and (possibly) even being a two-year player. But, then again, that’s what most of us thought about Gilgeous-Alexander too…

Tyrese Maxey

Status: recruit
Just when Kentucky fans thought recruiting news was done, a report came out saying Coach Cal pitched reclassifying and joining the 2018 Cats to another star point guard. Tyrese Maxey is listed as the No. 2 point guard in the 2019 class, coming in right behind already-committed Hagans.

In an interview with SEC Country’s Kyle Tucker, Maxey seemed unphased by the possibility of having to compete with three other 5-star point guards.

“Coach Cal has had three 5-star guards on the roster before with Isaiah Briscoe and De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, and he gets it done,” Maxey said. “And that’s not the first time he’s had it like that. He had Tyler Ulis, the Harrison twins, Devin Booker. That’s four 5-star guards on one team. He finds a way to make stuff like that happen and work, so you gotta trust him.”

That sounds like a very “Kentucky” answer from the Texan. UK is widely considered the leader in his recruitment, but, at this point, it’s still unclear as to whether or not he will actually reclassify. If he does, we probably won’t know until mid-July.

Quade Green

Status: ?

Even after rumors of positive feedback from Calipari’s recent heart-to-heart with Green, the sophomore’s decision is still up in the air. At this point, it seems like Green is leaning toward returning for his sophomore season, but it’s hard to be sure. Unlike transfer announcements, it’s extremely rare for a player to “announce” that he’s not transferring. And, under usual circumstances, that’s fine. But, with two – possibly three – major point guards coming in next season, it’s hard to ignore the idea that Green may have been “recruited over.”

Still, it’s important to note that Green is the only returning guard who saw considerable playing time last season. We saw this year that experience does matter – especially at point guard – and repeating another all-freshman team could be another huge challenge – especially without guys like Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones coming off the bench when the freshmen inevitably revert.

From a (possibly-biased) perspective, it’d obviously be ideal for Green to continue his time as a Wildcat. His calm nature and leadership qualities could be huge for this young team. If he stays, he’ll need to capitalize on his playing time at the beginning of the season, when Quickley and possibly Hagans and Maxey are still adjusting to college ball. Plus, he might have to be comfortable moving to and staying at the 2-guard position and letting one of the younger guys play point guard.

Guards

Keldon Johnson

Status: signed
Johnson comes to Kentucky as a five-star guard and the No. 14 overall recruit. He’s a good size for a shooting guard – 6’6” and 216-pounds – and a good mid-range shooter (something Kentucky seems to love… Long-2-U, anyone?). He’s a “lights-out” scorer, he’s got good speed and he knows how to bring the energy. Fans got to see his competitive nature during the McDonalds All-American game, where he said he planned to “dominate and kill” during the game. If all goes according to plan, Johnson will likely be another one-and-done guard for Kentucky.

Tyler Herro

Status: signed
I’m not going to lie – I’m excited about this kid. He’s a four-star player whose recruitment flew mostly under the radar. He’s picked up steam recently though, especially since Zion Williamson called him the most underrated player in the class. He signed with the Cats early, so he’s given plenty of interviews and quotes with both KSR and Hey Kentucky!. He seems like a great person and an energetic leader, and all signs point to him bringing a lot to the table next season (and possibly for a few more seasons after that).

Jemarl Baker

Status: Redshirt freshman

Baker is a real wild card in next year’s class. He’s been in Lexington for a year now, so he knows the ropes of Kentucky basketball and how to navigate John Calipari & Co. But, his knee injury benched him for the entire season, so he has no more game-time experience than any of the true freshmen.

He came in as a four-star recruit who was expected to stick around for a few years. But, a loaded class could push Baker a few more seats back. At one point in the season, there were rumors he could transfer. At this point, that doesn’t seem like an option. But, if he struggles to get playing time this season – which is definitely possible – a transfer may not be out of the question. On the other hand, if he works his way into a rotation off the bench this year, he could become a go-to older guy in the coming seasons. Here’s hoping for the latter.

Brad Calipari and Jonny David

Status: Returning

Jonny David returns as the team’s lone senior this season, while Brad Calipari comes in as a junior.

Forwards

EJ Montgomery

Status: signed

While the backcourt is loaded, Montgomery is the only big-name recruit coming in, as of right now, as a 2018 forward. His commitment was huge for the Wildcats; he picked UK over Duke and North Carolina. The No. 5 power forward in the class, Montgomery is expected to dominate around the bucket. According to ESPN, he’s “asserting his will around the rim much more assertively and consistently now.” This is great news for the Cats, especially since this is an area Kentucky was desperately lacking in for the majority of last season.

Nick Richards

Status: (likely) returning

Although Nick Richards hasn’t made any sort of announcement at this time, the BBN would be shocked if he did anything but return. Sure, you could make a case for him “testing the waters” without an agent alongside the rest of the world, but he’s not currently being projected anywhere close to a lottery pick.

Although his play was, at times, frustrating last season, another year of practice and experience could drastically improve not only his play, but his draft stock. Kentucky saw flashes of his potential last season, lead mostly by his athleticism and height. But… he just really needs to work on rebounding with both hands. I’m sure Cal is all over that.

PJ Washington

Status: Declared for draft, no agent

PJ Washington, for me, is the biggest question mark for next season’s roster. He’s a bubble player right now, and he was originally expected to return to Kentucky for his sophomore season. However, he was the first UK player to announce he would be declaring for the NBA Draft (without an agent).

If he comes back, I’d fully expect to see a monster season out of Washington. Washington’s “bully tactics” and experience would be huge for next year’s team, especially if Montgomery struggles to adjust to collegiate basketball. Washington was one of the most-developed players by the end of the season, and, although he hasn’t quite reached lottery-pick caliber yet, it’s clear he could in the future. In fact, he’s listed as an easy first-round pick for the 2019 draft (No. 18, according to Jonathan Givony). That should make it an easy choice… he should return. If he doesn’t, opponents of the one-and-done system will be all over it.

Jarred Vanderbilt

Status: Declared for draft, no agent

Vanderbilt’s mysterious foot injury is once again making news, mostly due to the fact that it is prohibiting him from currently playing basketball, making his decision to declare for the draft all the more puzzling. Sure, he can have conversations and review footage with NBA coaches and scouts this way, but how much have they actually seen from him?

Based on Vanderbilt’s season and injury, it’s expected he will return. Montgomery-Washington-Vanderbilt could be a dangerous front court combination. However, if a team lets him know they would take a chance on him based on his athleticism, energy and potential, an early departure would certainly not be out of the question.

Wenyen Gabriel

Status: Declared for draft, no agent

Although his current state is similar to Washington’s and Vanderbilt’s, his decision will not affect next year’s season quite as much. Sure, it’d be great to see a rare junior getting playing time at Kentucky, but I’m not sure how much that would happen, especially if Washington and Vanderbilt both return.

Throughout the past year, we’ve seen Gabriel develop a lot. But the question is, how much does he have left in him? Could he get substantially better and play for the NBA? Or is his best bet playing in the G-League or overseas? It’d be great to see Gabriel come back, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that didn’t happen.


That puts Kentucky at 13 scholarship players (including Brad Calipari), hitting exactly the NCAA’s limit. But, there are a lot of stars that have to align to hit that number 13. Hagans would need to reclassify; Maxey would need to reclassify and commit; Green would have to decide against transferring; Kentucky’s frontcourt would all need to return. If any of those things don’t happen, scholarships open up and last-minute recruiting efforts begin again. In other words, this roster is far from finalized.

@MaggieDavisKSR

Article written by Maggie Davis

11 responses to “An in-depth look at UK’s 2018-19 roster, as it stands now”

  1. lexcatfan2367

    I thought Montgomery signed last week.

    1. lexcatfan2367

      No problem!

  2. Not Dan Issel

    Maggie, how in the world did you forget about Jared Lorenzen?

  3. Wisconsin Wildcat

    Maggie, great update. Thanks!!!

  4. Han

    If Hagans reclassifies, Quade stays, and Maxey doesn’t reclassify, and then all the forwards return, I’d still like to see Cal leave that last schollie open in case a Maxey, Wiseman, Carey or anyone else reclassifies mid-year.

    If we lose one or more of our forwards, hopefully Cal can reel in a grad transfer (like a Daum) so we can add experience, a big body, scoring, etc., without losing out on Wiseman or Carey next year (schollie opened back up when grad transfer graduates).

  5. justaguyinthebackrow

    For me the craziest part is that we’re looking at the 2018-19 season. Not that it’s too early, but that it’s already deep into 2018 and next year is 2019. I’m getting old.

  6. Luether

    Glad someone is keeping up with all this. Greatly appreciate your post…

  7. makeitstop

    In terms of predicting who stays in the draft and who leaves, while it’s all personal decisions, it may be helpful to look back at the last 2 drafts since the NCAA and NBA rules (which conflict a bit) resulted in this longer eval period and effectively two “do-overs.” 57 of 116 underclassmen who declared returned to college in 2016, with 59 staying in. With upperclassmen and international players also eligible for the 60 draft spots, not surprisingly, 30 players went un-drafted according to Forbes, and having hired agents or missed the return deadline, their bed was made: overseas, G-League or RJ (Real Job). Undeterred, 138 undergrads declared in 2017, but 73 of them returned to school. All we know is that all 73 – like the 57 the year before – did not hire agents. We do not know how many were like Bam and waited ’til they had some feedback before they hired an agent or how many were like Monk and Fox and hired agents immediately, knowing they would not return. That is a research project for KSR. It looks like this year, more than 100 early entrants declared, including 6 from UK, but only about 30% have hired agents, meaning the vast majority will return, and likely know that. If they aren’t invited to the combine – we will know that later this week – they probably won’t hire an agent if history is a guide.

  8. Biglaw Dawgin'

    Don’t kids of UK’s professors and coaches get free tuition anyway? Brad has certainly earned the scholarship, but I could see him giving it up if needed to bring in another guy.

  9. sardiscat

    I’d swear I read on this very website an announcement by Nick Richards that he was returning to UK for next season.