In the past 48 hours, we’ve learned quite a bit about Kentucky’s 2019-20 roster. First, Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson are definitely gone to the NBA, which was expected. Second, Jemarl Baker is definitely going to transfer, which wasn’t entirely unexpected, but still came as a bit of a surprise. Third, there could be another grad transfer on the way in the form of Kerry Blackshear Jr., a 6’10” junior from Virginia Tech.
It sounds like Blackshear’s going to take his time with his decision, which could still include going to the NBA Draft, but let’s go ahead and take a look at where Kentucky’s 2019-20 roster stands as of now, and how it could change in the coming weeks.
Guard: Ashton Hagans/Immanuel Quickley
Guard: Tyrese Maxey/Immanuel Quickley/Brad Calipari
Forward: Khalil Whitney/Keion Brooks/Dontaie Allen/Zan Payne
Forward: EJ Montgomery/Nate Sestina/Keion Brooks
Center: Nick Richards/EJ Montgomery
Obviously, having a sophomore Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley is huge. Any kind of roster turnover is diminished by an experienced backcourt, and I’d expect Hagans and Quickley to both make considerable jumps in their sophomore years. Given his ability to score, I see Tyrese Maxey starting at the two, but Quickley backing up at both guard spots as a strong sixth man. Should Brad Calipari stay at Kentucky (remember, Cal mentioned he might transfer), he could get some time at the two as well. So, backcourt, good.
Khalil Whitney and Keion Brooks will give Calipari some interesting looks on the wing, as will Dontaie Allen if he’s healthy enough to go early in the season. On the inside, you’ve got veterans in EJ Montgomery, Nick Richards, and Nate Sestina, although I don’t believe the dust has settled on the frontcourt. As long as Leah Edmond is at Kentucky, I feel comfortable about Richards staying, but I wouldn’t rule out Montgomery testing the waters. You may scoff at that, but towards the end of the season, EJ showed a lot a lot of potential. If he returns, I think he could have a monster season and be the anchor Kentucky needs on the inside. While Nate Sestina is not Reid Travis, he should provide valuable minutes and an outside presence to keep teams honest, ala PJ Washington this season. If Kerry Blackshear Jr. does come to Kentucky, at 6’10”, 250 lbs., he could be a very important piece to the puzzle, but let’s not get too excited about that just yet.
On the recruiting front, Matthew Hurt and Jaden McDaniels are still out there, but it’s looking more and more like Hurt’s going to Duke and McDaniels to Washington. (I’d love to be wrong about that.) Five-star combo guard RJ Hampton could also reclassify to 2019, but that’s still to be determined.
As it stands, do you like your team?