Where does Kentucky’s 2018-19 roster stand after last night’s draft decisions? There are still a few pieces on the move, but here’s our best guess at what the Wildcats will look like after the dust settles.
* Denotes a player not technically on the roster yet
We saw how much it hurt Kentucky not to have a returning guard last season. This year, Calipari will have one in Quade Green, who averaged 9.3 points and 2.7 assists his freshman year. Quade missed some games due to eye and back injuries and lost his starting spot to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but will provide crucial leadership and experience in a young and loaded backcourt.
Quickley is sometimes an afterthought in next year’s backcourt, but shouldn’t be. Despite being hampered by injuries at the end of his senior year, Quickley is a reliable floor general with a relentless work ethic that creates for others and can knock down an open shot.
Hagans is still in the 2019 class, but is on track to reclassify to 2018 in the next month or so. If he does, Kentucky will regain what they lost in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, i.e., a guard who can get to the basket. Hagans is a dynamic playmaker who can burn defenders off the dribble and distribute; he led the Adidas Gauntlet in assists by a wide margin. He’s also a tenacious defender. Simply put, you want the ball in Hagans’ hands. If he makes it to Lexington this summer, he will be Kentucky’s starting point guard in the fall.
Often forgotten, Baker will return this fall after missing last year with a knee injury. His teammates claim he’s far and away the squad’s best shooter, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do.
Herro is much more than the three-point specialist he’s billed as. At 6’5″, 200 lbs., Herro can score from anywhere and is also comfortable bringing the ball up the floor if needed. Once a Wisconsin commit, Herro developed a thick skin and chip on his shoulder after being booed routinely by Badger fans his senior year. A tough competitor, he will only elevate his game going against elite talent in practice, a challenge he’s ready for:
Our practices are going to be played at the highest level, can’t wait to be apart of the family. The grind starts Monday. #BBN
— Tyler Herro (@raf_tyler) May 31, 2018
With a plethora of guards on the roster, Brad probably won’t be called into action as often as he was last year, but should exhibit more confidence to fire away when he gets an open shot — even with the crowd demanding it.
The only senior currently on the squad, David will be tasked with keeping the sideline loose and ready for dunk and lob celebrations. If history is any indication, he will also steal the spotlight in postseason locker room interviews.
Johnson can play small forward, shooting guard, or, if you listen to John Calipari, even point guard if needed. Described as a “dog” by his future teammates, Johnson is a fierce competitor that won’t back down from anyone. Johnson will be the highlight maker on this squad and is a notorious trash talker. Between him, Hagans, Herro, and Quickley, Kentucky’s about to get a much-needed dose of nasty.
Washington’s decision to come back makes this squad much more dangerous. PJ can bully his way to the basket and finish with the best of them, and with an offseason to work on his jumper, can take his game to another level. PJ will be the anchor down low, the perfect complement to EJ Montgomery’s length and athleticism.
If Travis joins the roster, Kentucky will have another bruiser down low ala PJ. With over three years of playing experience and a degree from Stanford, Travis would provide invaluable experience to a team that needs it. A double-double machine, he is a force in the paint, so much so that one draft prospect told Jeff Goodman Travis was the strongest player he’s ever played against.
A 6’10” lefty that can stretch the floor? Sounds like Calipari’s dream big. Montgomery’s got length, athleticism, ball-handling skills, and can score from almost anywhere. He needs to add strength, but will see plenty of time as a stretch four next year.
Kenny Payne’s son is still recovering from a knee injury, but once healthy, can play either guard or forward. A standout player at Lexington Catholic, he averaged 19.3 points and 8.7 rebounds in his senior season.
Richards struggled his freshman year, but we saw glimpses of his potential throughout the season. Kenny Payne said Richards’ problems stemmed from self-doubt, but he’s got all the tools to be special if he can get out of his head. Players often make the biggest leap between their freshman and sophomore years, making this upcoming season a pivotal one for the seven-footer.
Is it August yet?