ESPN is high on the Kentucky basketball roster heading into the 2020-21 season.
In ESPN’s latest Way-Too-Early Top 25 preseason rankings, staff writer Jeff Borzello listed the Kentucky Wildcats at No. 13 overall, the second-best ranking among Southeastern Conference programs.
In fact, Borzello used Kentucky’s top-15 ranking as a placeholder while we wait for the NCAA’s decision on Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr in the waiver process. Should he receive a waiver for immediate eligibility, Kentucky will likely move all the way up into the top five.
Either way, ESPN sees the Wildcats boasting a top-15 roster next season, highlighting the program’s elite recruiting class and anticipated growth from Keion Brooks Jr. as key reasons for their solid ranking.
Here was the excerpt:
13. Kentucky Wildcats
You see Isaiah Jackson in the projected starting lineup? That’s more of a placeholder for now, as the expectation (or hope) is that Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr will receive a waiver to play next season and slot into the center position immediately. If that happens, and it’s unclear when we might find out, Kentucky will likely shoot up the rankings into the top five. As it stands, John Calipari has tons of perimeter talent, but lacks experience and ready-made interior options. Sarr would solve both of those issues. Keion Brooks is the only returning rotation player from a season ago, and he will be leaned on regardless of whether Sarr gets a waiver. The perimeter is loaded with intriguing pieces. Devin Askew is a competitive, tough-minded point guard, and top-10 prospects B.J. Boston and Terrence Clarke will provide scoring and playmaking from the wings. Davion Mintz is a veteran point guard who transferred from Creighton this offseason and has plenty of experience. If Sarr doesn’t receive a waiver, Calipari will be forced to go small on occasion — although Jackson is an elite shot-blocker.
Projected starting lineup:
Devin Askew (No. 24 in ESPN 100)
B.J. Boston (No. 6 in ESPN 100)
Terrence Clarke (No. 9 in ESPN 100)
Keion Brooks (4.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG)
Isaiah Jackson (No. 31 in ESPN 100)
As a brief reminder, Jeff Goodman dropped Kentucky in his updated preseason rankings, moving the Wildcats down a spot from No. 23 to No. 24 after adding arguably the top transfer prospect in the country in Sarr. The Stadium college basketball analyst has Kentucky ranked fourth in the SEC going into the season.
As for the rest of ESPN’s rankings, here is Borzello’s updated preseason top 25:
- Texas Tech
- Michigan State
- North Carolina
- Arizona State
- West Virginia
- Ohio State
- Florida State
What do you think about ESPN’s rankings? Fair?