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Quick Peek Into the Future: 2019-20 Kentucky Wildcats

And Here. We. Go!

This week five Kentucky players have announced decisions regarding their future as Wildcats. Earlier today, freshman shooting guard Tyler Herro joined teammates Keldon Johnson and PJ Washington in entering the 2019 NBA Draft.

Rounding out the week of announcements was freshman guard Immanuel Quickley, who just announced Friday afternoon (via Instagram) that he will be returning for another year. He joins freshman point guard Ashton Hagans who announced earlier this week in similar fashion that he will be back (like he forgot his keys) in the blue & white for his sophomore season.

Ashton Hagans announces he will return to Kentucky

As the NCAA withdrawal date approaches on May 29th, the Big Blue Nation will undoubtedly use that time to speculate about each player’s final decisions in an attempt to start visualizing and building excitement for the 2019-20 campaign.

While NBA Draft announcements continue and projections are taken into account, look no further for your up-to-date projection of the 2019-20 Kentucky Men’s Basketball Team.

  • PG – Ashton Hagans (Sophomore) / Immanuel Quickley (Sophomore)
  • SG – Tyrese Maxey (Freshman) /  Jemarl Baker Jr. (R-Sophomore) / Brad Calipari (R-Junior)
  • SF – Khalil Whitney (Freshman) / Keion Brooks (Freshman) / Dontaie Allen (Freshman) / Zan Payne (R-Freshman)
  • PF – EJ Montgomery (Sophomore) / Keion Brooks (Freshman)
  • C – Nick Richards (Junior) / Nate Sestina (Graduate Transfer)

If this projection holds true, Kentucky would be in a prime position to compete for a title next season despite losing three projected first round draft picks –  PJ Washington, Tyler Herro, and Keldon Johnson, as well as a graduate leader in Reid Travis.

The 2019-20 team would be one of Coach Cal’s largest combinations of talent and experience in his decade in Lexington. It would be only the second time Calipari returned his starting point guard from the previous season (2014-15 Andrew Harrison), and I think we could all agree that turned out pretty well.

The coupling of at least four key returners and a top recruiting class, currently ranked No. 2 in the national rankings, has historically been a recipe for success under Calipari.  His best teams here have been comprised of a similar framework.

Yes it’s early, but if Andy Katz can stand on the floor at the Final Four – before they’ve even had a chance to sweep off the confetti – and deliver his “Early College Basketball Rankings for 2019-20,” then we can indulge in our own look towards the future (a future that seems bright, I might add).

Coach Cal has a history of adding players late in the process, so the roster has its typical sense of fluidity around this time of year. It may be some time before we truly know the team that will tip off the 2019-20 season in October. Until then, we’ll be here to catch you up to speed.

Article written by Grant Hammons

Follow me on Twitter @GrantAllenHammo

36 Comments for Quick Peek Into the Future: 2019-20 Kentucky Wildcats

  1. CatBlue in LR
    5:15 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

    I appreciate the optimism, but any team Nick Richards starts and plays significant minutes for is not a threat for the national title. Nothing against him–he’s a fine young man. I’m just speaking about his basketball ability. He had trouble hanging on to the ball and had several turnovers against Abilene Christian. We need Tyler to come back and the kid from Minn. or that other frontcourt recruit (can’t think of names right now) to be a threat for the Final Four next year.

    • dave1964
      5:25 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

      I say if you think next years team has any more chance than last years don’t know much about basketball. If anyone thinks a team that relies on Richards for starting minutes will not even win the SEC.

    • FlatTopsAndBlockedShots
      5:25 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

      Kid from Minn. is actually graduate student, Reid Travis so he will not be returning. EJ Montgomery should be serviceable next year but not as good as year two PJ.

    • CatBlue in LR
      5:45 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

      No, I was speaking of Matthew Hurt, a 6-10 PF we’re recruiting (you may not have heard). Just couldn’t think of his name a while ago. Why would I be talking about Travis for next year?? I think Maxwell is the name of the other guy I referenced. Apparently, it’s down between us and Washington for him (and, no, I don’t mean P.J.!).

    • IrishCat
      6:17 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

      Looks like a solid roster to me. Plenty of balance, experience everywhere, and shooters at different positions. I think EJ is going to blow up next season.

    • runningunnin.454
      5:43 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

      I don’t think catblue is talking about Reid. I think he’s talking about Matthew Hurt from Mn. The other target is Jaden McDaniels.

    • CatBlue in LR
      5:49 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

      Yeah, McDaniels not Maxwell. Thanks for setting me straight. I’m getting worse with names. Just wait ’til you get old ?…

    • runningunnin.454
      6:03 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

      I don’t have to wait, I remember the ’58 National Championship, Ha ha.
      Oh, oh time to throw the little piggy around, Spring football game on SEC network.

  2. Cokely53
    5:15 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

    Maybe I’m just being pessimistic but I’m just not seeing the current roster being a title contender. Gonna need a big jump out of EJ or Nick. That and Maxey looks like the only impact player from the freshman class. We could be good, just not a title contender.

    • FlatTopsAndBlockedShots
      5:28 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

      It’s a fair assessment. Nick I will not comment on but EJ should take a good jump simply because he will be playing more. Unless UK gets an addition of a reclassified player like Hampton (unlikely to commit to UK) or Dante then the real potential for the Wildcats is a likely Elite Eight for the 2019-20 squad.

    • guus
      9:22 am April 13, 2019 Permalink

      I agree especially if both keldon and tyler stay in the draft. Defensively I think we can be just as good this year, but without knock down shooters like herro, where will that offensive firepower come from?!? I think people often soon forget how lethal pj snd herro were offensively. Guys a freakin bucket for Christ sake. I worry there wont be a consistent enough shooting production from those guys. It’s very rare you get a herro kind of player, in a freshman…

  3. Blue4Life
    5:20 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

    Still potential for Keldon to come back next year.

  4. DelrayCat
    5:31 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

    We need another big guy that can play C/PF.

    • DelrayCat
      5:33 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

      And even if they’re not good enough to beat out Richards… We need more bodies. Use those scholarships!

  5. Rod Crandler
    5:34 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

    We seriously need a big butt guy in the middle to have a serious shot. Anything can happen but when going up against teams with senior inside guys with power we are going to be lacking. Especially on the boards.

  6. Headhurts
    5:35 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

    Early on this season nobody thought this team would be that good and they made the elite eight so next year even without PJ and Reid this team will compete for a title, never doubt coach Cal when r people gonna learn?

    • dave1964
      7:28 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

      Do you mean how we competed for the last few years. When you have to coach heart, toughness, will to win and hustle it’s a up hill battle.

  7. VirginiaCat
    5:50 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

    Hate to say it, but next year does not look promising. It’s unlikely that we get Herro or Johnson back, and Hurt is probably going to Duke. That leaves us with a handful of veterans, yes, but they remain largely because they can’ make the leap to the NBA. I think we are seeing is the new normal that has been with us since the 2015 season.

    • CatBlue in LR
      6:01 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

      Yep, I’m afraid you’re right on target. I do think E.J. has big potential and could take a Fr.-to-Soph. step similar to the one P.J. made. But I’ve seen enough of Nick to conclude that jump ain’t ever happening for him.

    • catsarerunnin
      6:41 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

      VC is a dbag

    • dave1964
      7:29 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

      Hurt will be going to puke.

    • Luether
      7:41 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

      What VC said…

  8. Catcasey1
    5:56 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

    Not sure a big big guy is needed don’t think Virginia had a big guy that was great and either did Texas tech

  9. ukcats1776.90
    6:45 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

    the grad transfer is not any good at all. hes literally like if Brad Calipari went to bucknell then transferred. reid was pretty good and he was one of the best in another power 5 conference coming in. sestina wasnt even top 10 in one of the worst conferences in D-1. he will suck and UK will be a 6 seed that will be lucky to make it to the sweet 16

    • runningunnin.454
      7:06 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

      We have a tralfamadorian among us; Great, we won’t even have to watch.

    • JT919
      7:22 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

      What specifically makes Sestina no good? Also, do you have the Powerball numbers, since you can clearly see the future?

    • TheMaxCat
      7:49 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

      Experienced guards win in March and Hagans was a very young Freshman. Our guards last year had no veteran tutelage. I look for the backcourt to be much improved due to more experience and more depth. Up front nick and EJ should be better and another grad transfer and for a team that reloads with young guns each year that is a good idea. He may not be the savior but he adds maturity to a relatively young squad and at 6’9, 245 can stretch the floor and a bigger body was needed. We either add a returnee, a reclass or one of the two remaining HS senior targets or maybe even a surprise, regardless, adding 1 more player. We again will be in the hunt. Though I tend to believe what Cal said last year holds true again next year and that is for us to get where we want to go, Nick Richards will have to step up. Nick was a late starter at the game of hoops and will have less pressure knowing he will garner minutes now. Get to work Big guy.

  10. dballrb
    8:00 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

    We lost in the FF..No it wasn’t a satisfying season. I’d rather lose in the second or third round than in a regional final or the FF/Title game. The lose deep in the tournament rips my heart out.

  11. Fitz
    8:21 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

    The Bucknell kid is far from being “not very good at all”. He’s not great, but a good player. Not near the caliber of Reid, but could be serviceable in certain match-ups.

    • guus
      9:35 am April 13, 2019 Permalink

      I think he is close to being as good as Reid. Obviously time will tell…but he shoots the three ball at a 40% clip, something Reid couldnt dream of. I’m curious to see his post production and defensive capabilities to see where the kid truly stands. Yeah Reid was a D1 power center, kind of a bruiser bang you around type center, but the Pac12 is and has been one of the absolute worst conferences in the country. So both Sestina and Travis might produce similar numbers when its all said and done. Is it Nov yet?!??

  12. Racerr11
    8:27 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

    We always have talent and atheletes but what matters most is we have Cal the best coach in the country so as usual we are in the hunt and could be national champions

  13. MontyCats
    8:28 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

    Literally NO one thinks Andrew Harrison’s return went well.

    I will enjoy next year’s team but won’t have high hopes for them. EJ will be great by his junior year and it could plausibly happen next year. Maybe having less competition takes the edge off Richard’s and he settles in. Hagans could be great and Herro coming back would change everything.

  14. VirginiaCat
    8:34 pm April 12, 2019 Permalink

    Points taken, MaxCat. Refreshing to see actual analysis instead of reactive name calling. I agree that Nick should get better, but remains to be seen if he improves or remains a project. Also agree that we need another player to blend into the mix. Many “ifs” at this juncture.

  15. JT55
    12:26 am April 13, 2019 Permalink

    This team needs another big guy. The kid from Bucknell isn’t very good. Should be set in the backcourt.

  16. Dowser
    8:50 am April 13, 2019 Permalink

    Hurt won’t come because Cal doesn’t give bigs a free reign to shoot. Imo