Virginia Tech graduate transfer Kerry Blackshear, Jr. will make his decision on where he attends school next season any day now. Whether or not he joins UK, his decision has big implications on how the Cats will function next year.
However, he is by no means the be-all and end-all for the Cats to have a successful season. Here are three predictions for what will happen if Blackshear decides to commit elsewhere.
- Cal plays more small ball
John Calipari always brings in a good recruiting class, but this year he was lucky that so many big men stayed. With P.J. Washington and Reid Travis departing, had Nick Richards or E.J. Montgomery gone to the draft, getting Blackshear would be a necessity. Now, it’s a luxury.
There are some very talented guards in the incoming class, as well as forwards Kahlil Whitney and Keion Brooks who could play at the four position if necessary. With college basketball shifting to smaller lineups, Calipari adapting this style would allow the Cats to play faster and have more backcourt players shine. Because of this…
- The Cats could finally put up some points
Something Calipari has struggled to do in his time at Kentucky is record a nationally great offense. The Cats have only posted a top-10 scoring mark as a team once in Cal’s tenure during the 2016-17 season.
Many of Cal’s best teams have seen their seasons end simply because they fell short offensively (Auburn 2019, Wisconsin 2015, UConn 2011, WVU 2010). With a smaller lineup relying more on athletic guards and shooters like Whitney, Brooks, Tyrese Maxey, and Immanuel Quickley, UK could finally have the high-powered offense they need to get over the hump. Finally…
- E.J. or Nick hits their stride
With Calipari’s big men, it takes time for things to click. Specifically, playing time, something Richards and Montgomery are lacking in. Montgomery averaged 15.1 minutes per game last season while Richards’ playing time decreased from 14.7 minutes to 12.1 between his freshman and sophomore campaigns.
With a thinner frontcourt and Sestina limited as a defender, Montgomery and Richards would find the floor more and, in turn, they would gain much-needed experience and confidence. Because of this, they would be more likely to take the next step in their games, both offensively and defensively.
It’s impossible to say what will happen if Blackshear does or doesn’t commit, and this is not to say that his presence would be detrimental to Kentucky. He would bring an offensive skill set and experience that could greatly benefit the Cats. However, without his presence, the other players would receive a chance to shine.