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Kentucky now has all the pieces to win a national title

Reid Travis is officially a Kentucky Wildcat, meaning the 2018-19 roster is complete. Let’s break down that roster, and why the addition of Travis makes Kentucky a legitimate national title contender.


Quade Green

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; in fact, we’re hearing he’s already doing that in summer workouts.

Immanuel Quickley

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 can get to the basket, create for others and knock down an open shot.

Ashton Hagans

Hagans gives Kentucky what they lost in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, i.e., a guard who can get to the basket. He’s 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, which is why he will eventually be the starting point guard alongside Quade Green.

Jemarl Baker

Baker will return this fall after missing last year with a knee injury and, according to his teammates, is the best shooter on the squad. Everyone’s been raving about Baker so far this summer, so I can’t wait to see what he does on the floor.

Tyler Herro

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.

Brad Calipari

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.

Jonny David

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.


Keldon Johnson

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. He will be a 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.

PJ Washington

PJ is this team’s anchor, and, based off his appearances since deciding to return to Kentucky, is ready to lead. 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’s best work will be on the inside, but with Reid Travis joining the roster, I expect him to heed the NBA’s advice and expand his game outside.

Reid Travis

With over three years of playing experience and a degree from Stanford, Travis will provide invaluable experience to a team that needs it. A double-double machine, Travis is a force in the paint, which will allow PJ Washington to flex his versatility. The frontcourt of PJ Washington and Reid Travis is physical and formidable, something UK’s lacked in recent years.

EJ Montgomery

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.

Zan Payne

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.


Nick Richards

Richards struggled his freshman year, but we saw glimpses of his potential throughout the season. During interviews last week, he said he’s moved past the self-doubt that plagued him his freshman year and his confidence is at an all-time high. That’s great news for Kentucky, who will rotate him in and out when height and length are needed.

Starting Five

The combinations are endless, but the lineup I like best right now is Ashton Hagans, Quade Green, Keldon Johnson, PJ Washington, and Reid Travis. That’s a solid, powerful group with three veterans and two playmakers, from which you can rotate in three-point shooting and size. Immanuel Quickley may eventually take Quade’s spot, but for now, I like Green’s experience in the backcourt. Besides, if Calipari decides to platoon again, it won’t really matter, will it?

For the past few years, Kentucky’s roster has been missing key ingredients in March. With the additions of Reid Travis and Ashton Hagans and a head start in the Bahamas, they finally have everything they need to make a run at Number Nine.


Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

51 Comments for Kentucky now has all the pieces to win a national title

  1. JTHinton
    2:22 pm June 20, 2018 Permalink

    Who would’ve thought in January…

  2. ClutchCargo
    2:33 pm June 20, 2018 Permalink

    I guess Brad and Jonny haven’t earned their own square; otherwise, it would have been given.

    • 72uksprinter
      5:33 pm June 20, 2018 Permalink

      Clutch comment, Clutcher.

      6:09 pm June 20, 2018 Permalink

      KSR is like Jami Gertz in the “The Stall” Seinfeld episode…couldn’t spare a square.

    • CatManDo
      6:41 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

      They got the Gilligan’s Island theme “…and the rest” treatment of The Professor and Mary Ann.

  3. nmichave
    2:40 pm June 20, 2018 Permalink

    UK has had “all the pieces” for about 5 or 6 years straight. They should be tied with, or one ahead of, UCLA. You can’t recruit the best talent every year and not win titles. As a UK grad and life-long fan, I want TITLES. Surpassing UCLA should be the annual #1 goal. I couldn’t care less about how many kids they send to the NBA.

    • stratblend
      3:03 pm June 20, 2018 Permalink

      Back to your cave Troll. Enjoy the journey or get off the train.

    • Jiminy Crickets
      3:04 pm June 20, 2018 Permalink

      True and not true at same time. The preseason #1 team rarely wins it. It takes talent, along side good coaching (whole other argument) and a lot of luck. There’s no way 2010 shouldn’t have won it all, same as 2015 both of those were results of bad coaching. 2010 WVU was without their starting PG and we refused to press their back up, duke pressed him the whole game and he faltered. (Not taking 75 3s woulda helped too)
      2015 we switched on every screen allowing Wisconsin to decide the matchups and Hayes and Big Frank ate us up, again Duke pressed the screens and the rest is history.

      But 2011 wasn’t a good team, neither was 2014 but both made it to FF, that was good coaching. Can’t argue one without arguing the other

    • (Aixelsyd)0505
      7:30 pm June 20, 2018 Permalink

      Lol luck huh

    • Cmart0907
      3:05 pm June 20, 2018 Permalink

      That first sentence speaks truth.

    • Luether
      12:49 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

      Well stated nmicav…

    • Kizzy
      3:12 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

      You’re 100% correct

    • Rembrandt
      6:33 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

      Nmichave and I agree on the big picture. I, too, grew up here and attended UK. And I, too, want more NCAA titles. The objective of our program is to win national championships. I want to have a basketball team that plays hard and wins big games. I want Cal to recruit the best basketball players who fit in his system, but I don’t give a hoot about class rankings, and bashing other players and coaches. I just want to see OUR players play hard, play well, and play their best when it counts the most.

    • Ez21
      7:51 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

      We have not had all these pieces since caps been here except in 2012 and 2015.

  4. Jiminy Crickets
    2:56 pm June 20, 2018 Permalink

    These “analyses” were written and posted a month ago, most of them word for word

  5. Robkycats54
    3:02 pm June 20, 2018 Permalink

    I don’t think haggans start at beginning of the year…

    Blue Platoon

    PG- Green his spot to lose & vocal leader
    Sg- Baker, hearing he’s been shooting the light out and best player thus far
    SF- keldon johnson
    Pf- PJ Washington

    White PLATOON

    PG- Hagan
    SG- QUICKLY, hearing he’s been the surprise of the summer Ala (SGA)
    SF- Herro
    Pf-Travis to give our bench much needed toughness
    C- Nick Richard’s

    For a nice Balance on both of the platoons

    Reid Travis swapping out for E.J. Montgomery would be the only thing I see different from my starting lineup….. it should be a fun yr I’m excited about the Bahamas trip to see who start b4 game starts #BBN

    • drew_123
      3:09 pm June 20, 2018 Permalink

      No way Travis came here not to start so I think switch Montgomery and Travis. Otherwise, I agree with you on the lineups.

    • 8andcounting
      4:13 pm June 20, 2018 Permalink

      This is exactly what I’m thinking. I know Cal said he wouldn’t platoon again, but it’s the best way to do it with this many talented guys who will all demand minutes. Unless and until some of these guys establish themselves as far better/worse than their counterparts, platooning is the way to go

    • Rembrandt
      6:23 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

      Anyone who believes Reid Travis isn’t starting from day #1 is living in an alternative universe.

  6. Jiminy Crickets
    3:10 pm June 20, 2018 Permalink

    The problem with your starting 5 is NO ONE can shoot. Green is capable but not great and at 5’10 he will struggle at the 2. KJ can’t shoot, and Hagans is prob worst shooting guard on the team.
    This will be the struggle, we have 5 good shooters whose defense is suspect, and 5 ballers that can’t shoot. Mixing it will be Cals biggest challenge. He will NOT platoon, I’m willing to bet that

    • Jiminy Crickets
      3:33 pm June 20, 2018 Permalink

      My post was regarding Mrs Thompson’s listed starting 5, not above posts

  7. the ghost of Bill Hicks
    3:37 pm June 20, 2018 Permalink


  8. Wade
    4:20 pm June 20, 2018 Permalink

    I like it!!!platoon

  9. 72uksprinter
    5:35 pm June 20, 2018 Permalink

    The tanks will be roaring over the hill…

  10. (Aixelsyd)0505
    7:27 pm June 20, 2018 Permalink

    How do you not have EJ in the starting 5? Dude is a shot blocking genius?

    • Ez21
      7:54 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

      EJ isn’t known for blocking shots. He’s long enough to get some but don’t act like he’s Jarvis Varnardo in college.

    7:49 pm June 20, 2018 Permalink

    Hagans/Herro/Johnson/Pj/Travis. This will be our lineup when it’s all said and done. Have E.J., Quade, and Quickley be your 6-7-8 with Baker and Richards making 9-10 for emergency

  12. (Aixelsyd)0505
    7:57 pm June 20, 2018 Permalink

    Ok I like this line up best…
    With Travis/green/quickley for first off bench

  13. Ukfan1010
    12:15 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

    My starting 5 would be: 1. Quade 2. Ashton Hagans 3. Keldon Johnson 4. PJ 5. Reid Travis

    If coach cal would choose to do two equal platoons, I’d go with:
    Blue: Quade, Immanuel Quickley, Keldon Johnson, PJ, EJ Montgomery
    White: Ashton Hagans, Jemarl Baker, Tyler Herro, Reid Travis, Nick Richards

  14. Luether
    12:52 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

    Pitino would easily win a ‘ship with this talent. He’d press the hole game and have lots of guy playing hard all the time. He’d literally wear other teams in the end…

    • bigbluebanana
      1:49 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

      “The hole game” lol
      Title of Pitino’s next book.

    • Angelo
      1:55 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

      Without AD and MKG, Cal should but never would…

    • Rabbi Li
      3:11 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

      Luether is right about that’s the way to play this.

      1. Recruit better talent that the other teams.
      2. Have deeper benches.
      3. Get in the best shape.
      4. Wear the other teams out.
      5. Have stripper parties to celebrate.

    • kenny
      7:02 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

      Pitino would press the “hoe” game…. there fixed it for ya

    • Booby Petrino
      9:29 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

      Too bad Pitino chose to go to the craphole that is UofL. Coached there nearly 20 years and never won a title. Oh wait, he did win one…he just had to cheat to do it, and subsequently get caught.

  15. Miller45
    1:19 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

    Hopefully he can be the on court leader they need, exciting news

  16. Rabbi Li
    2:29 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

    Herro starts over Green at the 2 (if you’re going on pure shooting guard).

    We’ll have to see if Herro (6’5″, 193) outclasses Green (6’0″, 181) as a:
    1) Playmaker
    2) Passer
    3) Defender

    You never know what Cal decides (started Harrisons over Ulis + Booker) even though we would have won the Championship if Ulis + Booker had gotten the reps that season.

    I just don’t think people know how good Herro is & how Green’s court speed has been a liability.

    I love Green and we won’t win the title without him… just talking about the most lethal lineup.

    Also, who knows what Immanuel Quickley (6’3″, 180) & Jemarl Baker (6’4″, 180) bring to the table as 1/2 guards.

    If Herro is shooting 40% from 3 (which he did in high school) you won’t be able to keep him off the court.

    Cal could end up with any one of those 5 in the lineup (Hagans, Quickley, Herro, Green, Baker) and we don’t lose anything. There’s no drop. So many guys who seem to protect the ball (good handle, crisp passing). It’s going to be a great ride!

    • Kat4Life
      7:59 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

      Our practices are going to be absolute wars

  17. Bored_Dome
    6:03 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

    the game is moving towards what is classically labeled as small ball, but is truly nothing more than smart ball. if E.J. is as billed he will be one of the best centers in college bball next year. mark my words

    • Aar
      3:58 pm June 21, 2018 Permalink


      With KP working with him daily and the likes of Richards, Washington and Travis to rumble with, I look for him to start coming into his own for either UofL or KU.

  18. Kat4Life
    7:56 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

    A 10 man rotation in the offing. The SEC road games will be off the hook

  19. WatchutalkinboutWillis
    8:08 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

    This team is actually missing something. A sure-fire superstar. But I would rather have a well balanced team than one superstar.

    • Rabbi Li
      10:30 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

      You’ve never seen Keldon Johnson play. He has superstar genetics that will be realized. He’s more explosive than Knox IMO.

      Hagans, Herro, Quickley, PJ all have the ability to have superstar moments.

  20. Sir Brandon
    9:01 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

    …and there was much rejoicing!

  21. Robkycats54
    9:05 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

    Jermarl baker is the x-factor I’m telling you guys if he doesn’t get hurt last week might have been a final 4 team…. Shooting he is one the 5 guys in the country right now and his work ethic is crazy….. Just check this is out if you haven’t seen this already, imo baker will start his game is just so smooth..

  22. bigblue2284
    9:22 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

    Small ball is where the game is going but you have to have shooters to play that way. Not one suggested starter can shoot. Are the non starters that can shoot going to play enough? Don’t know. I also think suggesting Green is starting at the two is wrong, no way he can play the two and he hasn’t proven to be better than either PG we have coming in. I hope Cal doesn’t over play Green over the other guys this year like he did with Richards last year over Lee.

    • Rabbi Li
      10:54 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

      Green can play the 2 (he did many times last year).

      There was no Lee on the team last year.

    • bigblue2284
      2:05 pm June 21, 2018 Permalink

      I meant Sk Jones not Lee. The issue with Green playing two is he is often going to be in a mismatch due to size. Additionally he is a point guard at the NBA level so playing the two in college doesn’t help him much if we are a “Players First” program.

  23. Rixter
    10:31 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

    For all the talk about Cal’s teams being so young, this squad has FOUR guys who were full time starters last year. And an group of freshmen who don’t totally suck.
    We are L O A D E D !!

  24. drbigblue
    11:34 am June 21, 2018 Permalink

    Let’s all hope and pray these kids will all have a healthy, non injury season, so they can give it their best, healthiest shot!!!