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Where does Kentucky get shooting and scoring help in 2021-22?

Sitting at 8-14 on the year with NCAA Tournament hopes hanging on by a conference-tournament-title-run-sized thread, it’s abundantly clear Kentucky’s 2020-21 roster is deeply rooted with issues, and it has been all season. And while the team’s struggles can’t be narrowed down to one particular issue as the sole reason for the losses – the Wildcats seem to come up with new ways to lose by the week – their inability to score has been arguably the top driving factor from the start of the season to the finish.

Now ranked No. 220 in the nation in scoring offense at 69.7 points per game, No. 235 in 3-point field goal percentage at 32.59% and No. 289 in field goal percentage at 41.47% with just two games to go in the regular season, a quick-fix offensive turnaround isn’t on the table in 2020-21. Looking ahead to the 2021-22 season, though, an emphasis on shooting and pure scoring is necessary to round out the roster.

But where will that come from?

UK already has the likes of five-star forward Daimion Collins, four-star guard Nolan Hickman and four-star forward Bryce Hopkins signed on in the class of 2021, along with West Virginia forward transfer Oscar Tshiebwe already on campus and eligible for the 2021-22 season. And looking at the current team, the only players truly anticipated to enter the NBA Draft are Brandon Boston Jr., Terrence Clarke and Isaiah Jackson, meaning some combination of Keion Brooks Jr., Jacob Toppin, Devin Askew, Dontaie Allen, Lance Ware and Cam’Ron Fletcher could all return. Even transfers Davion Mintz and Olivier Sarr both confirmed this week they are considering the possibility of coming back for a second season at Kentucky.

Development from one year to the next is always expected, but no matter who ultimately decides to return in 2021-22, that core group is undoubtedly still missing a few go-to scoring and shooting threats. And barring a change of heart from the likes of 2021 five-star guards Jaden Hardy (trending toward the professional route), Hunter Sallis (trending toward Gonzaga) and Trevor Keels (trending toward Duke), it doesn’t appear UK will be able to find those plug-and-play options at the high school level.

With the NCAA planning to pass a one-time immediate transfer rule going into next season, though, Kentucky’s options will be plentiful at the collegiate level. With that in mind, why not compile a list of potential options John Calipari and his staff may have at their disposal going into the offseason, ranging from the top shooters and scorers you’ll find in the nation?

Mind you, none of these names are are confirmed targets for UK as of yet, with most not even in the NCAA Transfer Portal at this point in time. This list is purely to show what options may be out there for Kentucky now that the one-time transfer rule is set to go into effect next season.

Let’s jump right in.

Max Abmas (Oral Roberts) – Sophomore

(Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

Abmas, a 6-foot-1, 165-pound guard originally out of Rockwall, TX, is the leading scorer in college basketball at 24.7 points per game. And more importantly, he’s doing it shooting 48.8% from the field, 45.5% from three (on a ridiculous seven attempts from per game, mind you) and 89.9% from the line. He’s also averaging 3.3 APG, 3.2 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 2.0 TPG.

In 2020-21, the sophomore standout has failed to cross the double-digit scoring threshold just once, finishing with 11 25+ point games, seven 30+ point games, four 35+ point games and two 40+ point games. Oral Roberts isn’t a national powerhouse by any stretch of the imagination, but he finished with 18 points at Missouri, 28 points at Wichita State, 33 points at Oklahoma State and 20 points at Oklahoma.

Kentucky is in desperate need of a professional bucket-getter, and it’s hard to do better than adding the top scorer in all of college basketball.

Antoine Davis (Detroit Mercy) – Junior

Coach Cal has mentioned Davis by name on more than one occasion during Brad Calipari’s time at Detroit Mercy, specifically noting that the junior guard’s emergence as a star was a key reason his son’s playing time took a hit this past season. And it makes sense, as the 6-foot-1, 165-pound standout is averaging 24.3 points per game on 42.5% shooting, 37.3% from three and 91.5% from the line this season.

Son of Detroit Mercy head coach Mike Davis, it’s hard to imagine the two-time First Team All-Horizon League honoree is in a rush to leave the program, but we just saw a similar situation with Calipari at Kentucky. The UK head coach welcomed his son’s decision to transfer in an effort to expand his role, maybe Davis welcomes his son’s decision to transfer to a blue blood program to produce at a high level under the spotlight? The relationship between both parties is there.

Scotty Pippen Jr. (Vanderbilt) – Sophomore

Son of NBA legend Scottie Pippen, Kentucky fans should be fairly familiar with the Vanderbilt standout’s situation at this point. Averaging 20.5 points per contest on 43.3% shooting overall, 36.5% from three and 81.5% from the line, Pippen is a terrific player, but plays on the worst team in the SEC. Managing four 25-plus point games and two 30-plus point games, the 6-foot-1, 170-pound guard has finished in double figures every game this season. He’s also averaging 5.2 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 steals per contest.

Interestingly enough, Pippen said earlier this season that UK was his “dream school” growing up, with Vandy head coach Jerry Stackhouse adding that he enjoyed playing on the big stage after suiting up at high school powerhouse Sierra Canyon prior to his time in college.

CJ Fredrick (Iowa)– Sophomore

(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Want a sharpshooter? Look no further than former Covington Catholic star CJ Fredrick. Averaging 8.4 points per contest this season, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound guard is shooting 50.8% from three on over three attempts per game and 33-65 on the year. The Cincinnati, OH native averaged 10.2 PPG on 46.1% 3PT (over four attempts per game) in 2019-20, setting the single-season freshman record at Iowa for 3-point shooting percentage en route to All-Big Ten Freshman Team honors.

Prior to his time at Iowa, Fredrick was named the 2018 Kentucky Gatorade Player of the Year after leading Covington Catholic to a state championship and a 35-4 record as a senior, scoring 111 total points (27.8 PPG) while shooting 63 percent from the field during the state tournament. He set single-season school records for points (900), field goals made in a season (315), and 3-pointers made (107). The former in-state standout’s 23.1 scoring average as a senior is second best while his 48.4 3-point percentage ranks third best in school history.

Alex Barcello (BYU) – Senior

Sticking with the players with Kentucky connections, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound guard out of Chandler, AZ is currently averaging 15.7 points on 53.3% shooting overall, 48.9% from three (3.9 attempts per game) and 84.1% from the line to go with 4.6 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game.

After two years at Arizona to begin his career, Barcello has spent the last two seasons playing for former UK team captain and national champion Mark Pope at BYU. Would he want to transfer a third time for one final season of eligibility?

Nate Johnson (Xavier) – Senior

(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Like Barcello, Johnson already transferred once in recent years, heading to Xavier in 2020 after spending three years at Gardner Webb. Still, though, the 6-foot-4, 195-pound guard averaged 11.4 points per game on 45.2% shooting from three on 5.8 attempts per game. Finishing with over three makes from deep in eight games this past season, Johnson is ranked seventh in the nation in 3-point shooting.

Other notes of interest:

  • 39% 3PT shooter three years straight, 41% 3PT shooter over the course of the last two seasons.
  • Never averaged more than 1.7 turnovers per game in his career, only 1.3 turnovers per contest in 31.5 MPG this season
  • Played 16 games in 2020-21, out remainder of year with lower leg injury. Xavier’s third-leading scorer.

Nimari Burnett (Texas Tech) – Freshman

Switching over to players already in the transfer portal, Burnett is a former five-star prospect (No. 22 overall, ESPN) who chose Texas Tech over offers from Alabama, Louisville, Michigan and Oregon.

Averaging 5.3 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 17.7 minutes per game, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound guard played in 12 games before leaving the program.

While he hasn’t yet proven to be the elite shooter or scorer Kentucky needs at the collegiate level, the UK staff has watched Burnett play on numerous occasions after recruiting his former high school and AAU teammate Jalen Green in the class of 2020. Ranked No. 3 in ESPN’s 2021-22 transfer rankings, signing the former McDonald’s All-American would be a move based on potential.

Above all else, we know for certain Burnett is available.

Jalen Gibbs (Mount St. Mary’s) – Graduate transfer

Sticking with the known available commodities, Gibbs entered the transfer portal after averaging 16.5 points on 42.2% shooting overall, 42.3% from three and 81% from the line in four games this season. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound senior has averaged double figures in all three years at Mt. St. Mary’s.

Gibbs is currently listed as the No. 19 overall prospect in ESPN’s 2021-22 transfer rankings.

Who do you hope Calipari and the UK coaching staff targets this offseason? Any other names stick out elsewhere?

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

33 Comments for Where does Kentucky get shooting and scoring help in 2021-22?

  1. sgd
    10:55 pm March 1, 2021 Permalink

    The gold standard is now so pathetic that we rely on the transfers to make a team. Cal can no longer recruit. He has 3 recruits coming in and only 1 is a guard. He is washed up and I can’t wait for him to leave.

  2. BobbyBlue
    11:05 pm March 1, 2021 Permalink

    Pippin would be my first choice. He has proven against the grown men of the SEC, and his coach with the bogus degree , says he loves the big stage.

    • ClutchCargo
      12:36 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

      This would be a game changer if it happens.

  3. Kfckernel
    11:05 pm March 1, 2021 Permalink

    Need Antigua or Payne back to coach the group we have. We don’t need the best players if we have a great coach that can transform them and make them better. It’s hard to hit a 3 pt shot from the bench.

  4. Swizzle
    11:25 pm March 1, 2021 Permalink

    I’m sure running allen off will help

    • 4everUKBlue
      2:22 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

      Maybe if he could shoot and hit while being guarded and play any defense at all he would be worth keeping. But the truth is he is only a threat when he is wide freaking open and he can’t guard you or me.

    • Swizzle
      11:32 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

      So what’s the excuse for askews 35 minutes a game? We need more air balls, bricked floaters, and turnovers?

    • serdi
      6:53 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

      Maybe if his teammates ever threw him the ball when he is open his chances of scoring would increase tremendously.

      His defense is not a liability you just believe what Cal told you repeatedly early in the year. He shut down Scotty Barnes Saturday for the 3 minutes he played. He gets a rebound or two, and Cal sits him down cause his teammates won’t pass him the ball.

    • millertim
      8:14 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

      Serdi, thank you… took the words right out of my mouth! Cal needs to run plays, sets and tell the team to LOOK for Allen!! Huge myth about the defense and only shooter when wide open… total b.s. When he plays 20 minutes or more, he’s proven to be an asset on the floor and very adept at scoring different ways— Miss State, Vandy, Florida, Alabama games!

    • 4everUKBlue
      8:32 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

      Not sure what games you two have been watching but it’s become glaringly obvious he can’t hit when being guarded and his defense is terrible. He blatantly shoved his man right in front of the ref last game seconds after entering the game. He may be deadly in a game of horse where no one is guarding him, you guys should take off your homer goggles and look at reality.

    • serdi
      9:17 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

      I saw him shove a guy under the basket trying to get position and he was called for it. Have you watched, other than Jackson and Toppin the other guys on this team play defense? You never see the others shove somebody to get position because they are weak and incapable.
      Have you seen the defense the guys not mentioned above who play for 28-32 minutes a game? I think you need to watch a little more closely. I think you accept “seek truth” the spin you are hearing from the head coach. I was in the program during the last Rupp years and the transition to Coach Hall. My comments are from knowing the game, playing the game, and watching the game. Maybe you need to watch more closely. Isn’t it amazing that the head coach said I told the guys to get him (Allen) the ball and they wouldn’t pass it to him but they would not do it. So what did the coach do, he took Allen out and left the guys who did not do what he told them to do in the game? As the head coach would say “What?.” If Coach Rupp or Coach Hall told you to do something and you did not do it, you would be sitting, not rewarded. You watch the game.

    • millertim
      9:19 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

      Based on your replies and “comments” its obvious you’ve not only never played the game but never coached as well. Probably best for you to stop attacking others on this site who offer REAL comments about bball, especially when you offer nothing but insults— no solutions other than “stfu”… clearly the result of arrested development…

    • channell
      3:42 pm March 2, 2021 Permalink

      Allen was inserted into the game the second half against Fla. and guess what? Askew never looked to pass the ball to him. Askew knew to get the ball to Allen. So Cal should have set Askew out. This team is as lost as an Easter egg.

  5. just a guy
    11:52 pm March 1, 2021 Permalink

    7 guys will leave this team. They’ll be super young again and with only one guard being recruited, he’ll go get 2-3 more transfers and we do it all over again.

    Calling it now. Calipari leaves UK after this year, 7 leave and our 5-star decomits. Leaving the cupboard bare.

    • Bluenblood
      10:35 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

      We are done with this game of supposedly great recruits filling roles immediately. The transfers have been adequate but not earth shattering. Our numbers suck. Our quality of play is way down and so is the entire college game. Cal can stay as long as he cares but the magic is gone. Fun while it lasted

  6. Newtype
    12:10 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

    None of these dudes are even gonna transfer I’d bet.

  7. kyle macys socks
    12:33 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

    Wow, great to see such optimism.

    • 4everUKBlue
      2:23 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

      It’s any every day thing here on this site and has been for years.

  8. jaws2
    12:36 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

    You mean Scottie Pippin Jr right? I wasn’t sure about his name since the Vandy game announcers never said it!

  9. CahillsCrossingNT
    4:57 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

    This program is a dumpster fire. Not even Billy delivered a losing season.

    • 4everUKBlue
      8:36 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

      BCG was only here 2 years and both years were bad. He lost 13 his first season and 14 his final season, in between hanging out in college bars and throwing parties with college students in his home, you probably attended some of those parties.

  10. kjd
    7:18 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

    Garbage article. A wish list of players not even in the transfer portal. The “gold standard “ can no longer recruit to fill our needs. Our hope is the transfer portal. This is what UK basketball has become. SMH. Pathetic.

  11. zoupman
    7:23 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

    I agree with kjd. Seems kind of low class, talking about guys not even in portal.

    Team will be fine. Cal is a great coach.

  12. millertim
    8:09 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

    Recruit Dontaie Allen to come back next year…

    • 4everUKBlue
      8:38 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

      Let him transfer unless we assemble a H-O-R-S-E team where he won’t be guarded and won’t have to play defense.

    • millertim
      9:09 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

      Wow… for a guy who claims to love UK, you certainly have no problem trashing a Kentuckian who plays for UK…

  13. UKinIN
    8:50 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

    It’s interesting how many “fans” think that every player will shoot 100% if Calipari will just get out of their way. It’s also interesting how “fans” think that Calipari should give every player what they want so that they don’t transfer because we know that always goes well. I agree that this wildly speculative post is a waste of the bytes it’s written in but I don’t understand why Phil Jackson would have so many KSR burner accounts to write about what Calipari is doing wrong. I guess he wants the UK job?

    • millertim
      9:15 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

      I’ve only called for more time for Allen b/c our team can’t score and Askew is obviously not ready to play at this level. I saw what Allen was capable of doing in 4 games in which he was given at least 20 minutes of playing time and he scored in double figures (Miss St, Vandy, Florida, Alabama). You guys that attack Allen, fall for the Cal fallacy that he can’t play defense and yet he is no more of a liability than Askew who gets burned all the time and is ZERO option offensively. Now that the season is practically over, try running a team with Mintz at point, Allen at 2, Boston 3, Jackson and Sarr— that’s an offensive threat on the floor.

    • Kfckernel
      9:45 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

      100% agree. Put Allen in for 20 minutes just to see what happens. He does it for Askew and he can’t shoot (except free throws…so I guess that’s basically HORSE also).
      But Cal won’t now because if it works he will look bad for wasting such talent.

    • UKinIN
      9:52 am March 2, 2021 Permalink

      I’m not attacking Allen. I want every UK player to have the best game of his career every night. I’m just amazed how some commenters think coaching is just telling a kid what to do and then watching him do it correctly 100% of the time. No one makes every shot. No one gets every rebound or plays perfect defense every possession. Calipari can call the perfect play and his players may not run it correctly or one defender may make the perfect counter and blow the play up. I’m tired of the “Just do this …” attacks on Calipari. He’s not perfect but he’s better than Hall, Sutton, Tubby, or Gillespie. He’s not the coach Pitino was in the 90s but he’s been more committed to UK than Pitino was. Winning basket games is coaching, players, and a lucky bounce every now and then. Calipari needs to adjust after this season but he’s still the right guy for UK.

  14. TheMaxCat
    1:51 pm March 2, 2021 Permalink

    This years struggles came down to 2 players. Hagans and Clarke. Moving forward we need a PG that can penetrate into the paint and a versatile wing. Askew will improve (but I don’t know if it will be enough). Baldwin is probably going elsewhere. It becomes a numbers game where we are probably best served adding another veteran via transfer. I’ll give players and coaches another year (and a off season) but based on current rosters the SEC will be strong.

  15. jaws2
    3:25 pm March 2, 2021 Permalink

    Max I’d beg to differ. We need a point guard that can penetrate AND make a friggin LAYUP!!!

  16. Blue Mass
    8:15 pm March 2, 2021 Permalink

    I would really like to know why the moderators took down a comment that I made in this thread.