Even in a world where the thought of college basketball is up-in-the-air, it hasn’t stopped ESPN from getting off the takes.
In an updated version of his ‘Way-Too-Early’ top 25 rankings for the upcoming college basketball season, ESPN’s Jeff Borzello has the Kentucky Wildcats slotted as the 12th best team in the country, one spot lower than he had them in the previous ranking.
NEW: Post-draft deadline Preseason Top 25 …
Biggest riser: Illinois
Biggest faller: Stanfordhttps://t.co/WIXRqLOHLp
— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) August 12, 2020
As with most rankings concerning the current version of John Calipari’s squad, they don’t mean much until a decision on Olivier Sarr has been made. Borzello even admitted in his blurb about Kentucky that, if Sarr gains immediate eligibility, the ‘Cats will be a “borderline top-five team” in the country.
Borzello put the Baylor Bears, who recently saw top guards Jared Butler and MaCio Teague announce plans to return to Waco, in the top spot, up two positions from their previous ranking. Right behind them are Villanova, Gonzaga, Virginia, and Iowa, in that order to round out the rest of the top five. Three fellow SEC schools, Tennessee (No. 10), LSU (No. 21), and Florida (No. 25) made the cut, as well.
Here’s what Borzello had to say about Kentucky.
In an unusual twist, Kentucky didn’t have much early-entry drama — but it was only because nearly every Wildcats player made his decision much earlier in the offseason. Only Keion Brooks returns from a year ago, but John Calipari added experience in the form of Creighton graduate transfer Davion Mintz — and potentially Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr. And it’s Sarr who holds the key to how good this team could be next season. The third-team All-ACC big man is hoping for a waiver to play right away, but no decision has been made by the NCAA yet. If he’s eligible, Kentucky is a borderline top-five team heading into the campaign. If not, there’s still plenty of talent. Five-star freshmen Devin Askew, B.J. Boston and Terrence Clarke are all likely to start, with Boston expected to make the biggest impact due to his high-level scoring ability. But there will be questions down low if Sarr isn’t eligible. Four-star Isaiah Jackson would be forced into a bigger role, and while he’s an elite defensive player, it might be premature for him to start from day one.
Borzello also added his projection for a starting lineup that I would assume most Kentucky fans agree with:
Outside of Jackson, who will assuredly be bumped off his starting spot for Sarr if he’s eligible, the top four appear to be the consensus starters as of right now. Things can obviously change–hopefully for the better, i.e. Sarr–but, as it currently stands, this is what Cal and his staff will likely run with.
What are your thoughts on the ranking? Fair or foul? Or does any of this even matter until a decision on Sarr is reached?