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UK’s 2019-20 Roster after the addition of Johnny Juzang

With Johnny Juzang officially joining the program, we are now starting to get a feel for what John Calipari’s 11th team at the University of Kentucky will look like. Seemingly every preseason ranking has UK in the top five and it’s clear that the Wildcats will again be a national title contender in 2019-2020. However, their playing style could be a bit different.

***Disclaimer: For this exercise, we’re going to assume that both EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards will be back on campus and that top-10 wing/small ball four Jaden McDaniels will be joining the top ranked recruiting class in the country.***

Throughout his coaching career, John Calipari has preferred to use a traditional two big lineup and it has been a big reason for his success. Yearly, Cal fields one of the sport’s best defensive teams but as the game evolves the lack of shooting hurts the Wildcats on the offensive end. We’ve seen Kentucky go small a couple times before and he’s going to have to do it again this upcoming winter on the hardwood.

Sitting here the weekend after Derby, the summer hasn’t even started but now is as good of a time as any to evaluate how UK will look next season. There’s no question that there is plenty of depth on the roster to go with length and interchangeable pieces on the perimeter. No matter what the look, John Calipari is going to have plenty of tools to tinker with.

Starters

To start off in the backcourt, it doesn’t feel like much of a discussion. Ashton Hagans returns for his sophomore season and he’ll run the point. Next to him will be five-star true freshman combo guard Tyrese Maxey. The top-1o recruit is a combo guard who will bounce back in forth between the one and the two. On paper, Kentucky will have on of the best backcourts in college basketball.

On the wing is where some major discussion will be. Keion Brooks Jr. is the lowest rated five-star recruit in the class, but he should be starting over at least one other. The 6-foot-7 wing picked Kentucky over Indiana and he brings some great versatility to the floor. Brooks plays within himself on the offensive end and has a polished game to this point in his development.

At the four will be another top-1o recruit. Jaden McDaniels, potentially, will be a huge recruiting win for Kentucky and if it happens he’ll likely lead the team in minutes. The long, lanky, athletic forward can put the ball on the deck and get wherever he wants on the floor. His length will make a significant impact on the glass and defensive end. Shooting will be a question, but there’s no doubt McDaniels will be an impact player for UK this season.

That’s four players that have been named and we haven’t even gotten into the paint yet. In 2016 and 2017, we saw Cal use a space floor on offense. When utilized, both Alex Poythress and Derek Willis were used in a stretch four role. That meant only one player in the post at one time. That’s what will happen for the majority of minutes this year.

Back for his sophomore year, potentially, EJ Montgomery will look to live up to that top-10, five-star ranking he was tagged with leaving high school. With a spaced floor, it will be easier for UK to take advantage of Montgomery’s unique skill set. The Georgia native is a rim running big who will be at his best catching lobs and occassionally shooting mid-range jumpers and baby hooks off quick post touches in the paint. On the glass, Kentucky will need the sophomore to really make an impact.

Bench

The first guy off the bench will likely be Immanuel Quickley and he’ll be the top backup at the one and two spots. However, don’t expect the sophomore to play much point. Right now it seems like that Hagans or Maxey will have the ball in their hands at all times so a spot shooter and energy player will need to play next to them. Getting shooting and solid defense from Quickley off the bench will be greatly needed.

On the wing, UK has all kinds of options off the bench. The first one people will want to talk about is top-12 composite recruit Khalil Whitney. It will come as a surprise to some to have him on the bench, but at this point Keion Brooks Jr. has the more developed game. Whitney, however, can play the three of four for Kentucky and will be a monster for teams to deal with in transition. Playing under control and with feel in the half-court will be Whitney’s biggest challenge at the college level.

Johnny Juzang is UK’s newest member to the 2019 recruiting class and the California native is bringing much needed shooting ability to the roster. Juzang can stroke it from deep, but that’s not all he brings to the table. The 6-foot-6 wing can play the two or the three in addition to being a solid rebounder and having a ton of defensive potential. Fellow freshman Dontaie Allen is built in the same mold and could be an answer if the Cats find themselves in foul trouble on the perimeter.

With the expectation for UK to be using a “4-out 1-in offense”, the perception will be that UK will not need a ton of big depth. However, that is not the case. In some specific matchups, UK will be forced to play a two-big lineup and right now they have two quality upperclassmen to bring off the pine. Nick Richards will be a junior who can bring size, length, athleticism, and rim protection to the lineup. Grad transfer Nate Sestina can space the floor with his three-shooting ability in addition to being a quality back to the basket block scorer. Cal will have options in the post.

There is still time for Kentucky to add more bodies to the roster and the coaching staff still needs to close the deal with Jaden McDaniels. That still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel very optimistic about the team. Kentucky has a loaded backcourt with plenty of quality options on the wing. Shooting and finding a reliable player that can go for 30 minutes per night in the paint still remain the biggest question marks. Sure this team will have some wrinkles to iron out, but they have the talent and the ability to be in the national mix.

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Article written by Adam Luckett

Twitter: @AdamLuckettKSR

28 Comments for UK’s 2019-20 Roster after the addition of Johnny Juzang



  1. Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
    9:39 pm May 10, 2019 Permalink

    Kentucky should be at it’s worse good at everything next year especially if they get McDaniels. If they top that off by convincing Blackshear that he will dominate in the 5 spot they’ll be great at everything next year.



    • mashburnfan1
      9:56 pm May 10, 2019 Permalink

      This is why you all get so disappointed at the end of seasons with nothing to show for it. Facts are we have no idea until January what this team might be. Could be title contention, could be 1st weekend out. Saying best back court on paper is stupid, yes Maxey is highly rated but so were Hagans, Richards, EJ and many more that were not as good as advertised as FR. Hagans was not that good last year for the most part. Hope he and Quickley improve but Nick did not between FR and SO years. Juzang was not a great 3 point maker in High School, hopefully more shots will go with college work and practice. Unless we get Blackshear OR at least 2 of Hagans-EJ-Nick-Quickley make a huge PJ like jump this team will depend on FR and that can’t win a title. Teams that rely on only FR have never, and never will, win a title. Last year should show us and Cal that more than ever, dUKe had the 2 best FR in years and could not win it{Reddish was so overrated and still is to the NBA I don’t count him as a 3rd}. Cal knows this and is why he now goes after the transfers {which he blasted when his friend got fired but is fine for him to do now}, you must have experienced players to help the FR.



    • dcforuk
      9:57 pm May 10, 2019 Permalink

      Blah blah blah



    • dcforuk
      10:01 pm May 10, 2019 Permalink

      You can win with freshmen though it is generally the exception and not the norm



    • 4everUKblue
      10:05 pm May 10, 2019 Permalink

      More mashbumKfanboy bullsh!t. Go cheer for dUKe loser!



    • N-UR-i
      10:20 pm May 10, 2019 Permalink

      Actually very rational view by Mashburnfan1. Doesn’t mean it is correct, doesn’t mean he is wrong.

      I agree, we will have to wait and see. Blackshear is the missing piece.



    • Cokely53
      10:23 pm May 10, 2019 Permalink

      Mashburn… are you just always miserable? You seriously come off as just a terrible person to be around. You get no joy out of anything. You’re one of the fans who secretly cheers for us to lose so you can come running to point out that you were right. Please stop bumming everyone out with your asinine comments.



    • EastKY-BlueBlood
      10:39 pm May 10, 2019 Permalink

      mashburnfan1 Idk there was a Men’s CBB Program that is celebrating the title they just claimed after going into the season with high expectations year after year?? Think you have the wrong sport AGAIN!! lol If the “ONLY” satisfaction you can have is Title, or it’s EPIC FAILURE, MAJOR DEPRESSION, and a complete waste of one’s Fall-Spring, and “IF” UK’s 8 titles in 114 some odd seasons is considered a helluva LOT!! Then I’m thinking you may try another sport to enjoy.. Just a thought.. Bc hanging national title banners, “NOT” gonna be high on ur to do list, anytime soon!! EVEN incredible as this sounds, even less on ur to do list being a DUKE FAN!! Bless there hearts, sitting at 5!! Why are they ever excited for basketball? Lol

      Can only imagine what you would had said if it was Cal who failed to get Zion, RJ, Cam, etc to NOT only NO TITLE, but NOT even a FINAL FOUR!!!! Lol!! Us fans that actually LOVE & truly UNDERSTAND the sport of Basketball, we are here yr round, and excited bc we love Basketball!! Especially Men’s College Basketball!! Ik that’s a hard concept to swallow, when EVERY PLAYER SUCKS (Based on ur Pro analysis) for most part EVERY YR is a HUGE EPIC FAILURE!!!!! LOL!!
      So here’s the biggie, If ur not concerned with what the roster will look like next season, as well as NO USE watching the 1st semester, bc no clue what possible type of team they may be til Jan.. Although I could sworn, there has been teams look like freaking World Beaters as late as last wk Feb, go down 1st weekends. Or teams not being considered much of a shot, cut nets down… ala UCONN, here is the very simple ???? Why are you here, and why taking the time to post epic NOVELS?? LMAO ? If ur gonna troll, itleast get good at it!! LOL!! Bc, anyone with sense, can easily pk apart ur sad waste of a LOT of daily time to get angry reactions!! Let’s not talk MBB, but in the Game of Life… Must def not be any banners, or even high expectations in ur dark, damp, neck of the woods!! That is tough.. Hang in there, Cassius Stanley may be all you HOPE!! #BBN #UK4EVER



    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      11:04 pm May 10, 2019 Permalink

      Mashburn you poor baby once again someone took your pacifier and here you come to whine about it.



    • UKBigBlueForever
      9:25 am May 11, 2019 Permalink

      trashburn, gtfo of here with your negative comments. Geezus. Why do you even comment on here? All you do is COMPLAIN and say negative SH** about our players and our coach. What’s the point of posting? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I can go back and find 0 comments you have made that were actually positive. You must have a sad, sad life and I’m GLAD I don’t know you in the real world. If you are like this in the real world you probably have 0 friends. Stay Classy and Go fu** yourself trashburnfan/debbiedowner.



  2. dcforuk
    9:56 pm May 10, 2019 Permalink

    Keeping players happy and nailing down the best rotation is a very good problem to have and will need to be managed. Much better problem to have than a talent-less rotation….



  3. kuhlkat
    10:06 pm May 10, 2019 Permalink

    We really need Blackshear to be legit.
    We have no muscle down low which will make us vulnerable to certain teams.
    Without him we have a weakness. With him we are unstoppable



    • makeitstop
      10:42 pm May 10, 2019 Permalink

      There’s a lot of truth to that unless Nick steps up and bulks up. I think he will. He’s got the length if he’s got the muscle and can learn to not leave his feet, and Sestina is bulky enough to help.



  4. Han
    10:15 pm May 10, 2019 Permalink

    Assuming Nick and EJ return, and we add 1 or both of McDaniels and Blackshear, I wonder if we see 5-for-5 subbing frequently? (Let’s not use the P-word since it was used against us in recruiting despite working great.)

    Starters – Hagans, Maxey, Brooks, McDaniel/Blackshear, Montgomery
    Second 5 – Quickley, Whitney, Juzang, Sestina, Richards
    ? – Allen coming off injury



  5. KYjellyRoll
    10:15 pm May 10, 2019 Permalink

    Actually Juzang shot 43% in AAU ball I believe



  6. makeitstop
    10:37 pm May 10, 2019 Permalink

    First world problems: playing time for burger boys.



  7. MacAssassin123
    10:57 pm May 10, 2019 Permalink

    JohnnyJuzang reminds me of a longer and taller Devin Booker. Huge pick up for the cats. Now let’s get Blackshere,McDaniels, and,Brown/Hampton.



  8. WatchutalkinboutWillis
    11:24 pm May 10, 2019 Permalink

    He didn’t mention Dontaie Allen. That kid is good.



  9. dcforuk
    11:30 pm May 10, 2019 Permalink

    2010 – Elite 8
    2011 – FF
    2012 – Championship
    2013 – No Fun
    2014 – Runner Up
    2015 – FF
    2016 – Round of 32
    2017 – Elite 8 (last second loss)
    2018 – Sweet 16
    2019 – Elite 8 (OT loss)



  10. dcforuk
    11:38 pm May 10, 2019 Permalink

    If someone told you in April 2009 that over the next 10 years UK would make four final fours resulting in one championship and one runner up and three other separate Elite 8 appearances, would you have taken that? I really think that most UK fans that say no now would be lying. Weeds grow with wheat. If you try to pull the weeds before the harvest you uproot the wheat too soon. It is not a perfect model but there is no perfect model. 70% of coach Coach Cal’s seasons have resulted in elite eight or better appearances. Pretty good stuff!



    • CATandMONKEY
      12:28 am May 11, 2019 Permalink

      excellent.
      The wheat/weeds analogy is rather apt.



  11. Jiminy Crickets
    9:32 am May 11, 2019 Permalink

    Am I the only one hoping Richards stays in draft, and we get Blackshear? We need one true big man, some teams will beat us up if we don’t. Blackshear will not come here if nick comes back. No way he leaves draft, and comes to a team where he’s coming off bench and minutes are limited, he will go to Florida and start for a contender. But if nick is not here……then you’re saying there’s a chance?



    • runningunnin.454
      10:05 am May 11, 2019 Permalink

      If Blackshear really wants to play for UK, I doubt Nick would scare him off; he only played 12 min/game, down from the previous year.
      If we were to get McDaniels, that might affect his decision.



  12. UKBigBlueForever
    10:26 am May 11, 2019 Permalink

    Why no mentioned of D. Allen or a potential Blackshear commitment? I think this Dontaie Allen kid is going to surprise some people assuming he isn’t red-shirted his freshman year. You can’t put up that many points/stats in high-school and not be legit unless he was playing against middle-schoolers.

    3 months until football and 5 1/2 – 6 until basketball!



    • Vette City Joe
      10:43 am May 11, 2019 Permalink

      He’ll redshirt simply because this team already looks to be loaded AND he’ll have more time to properly heal from his injuries. Remember, he was on his way to rehab when he was involved in a car wreck & sustained another injury. Rumors say it was a broken collar bone. For the sake of his future, he’ll most definitely be a redshirt



  13. Vette City Joe
    10:40 am May 11, 2019 Permalink

    Assuming Kentucky does, in fact, get McDaniels or Blackshear…I would actually have one of those two start at the 5 and let Sestina be the stretch 4. It’s still a two-big lineup and you space out the floor!