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Who stays and who goes?


We’ve officially reached the time of year fans dread. The players are in the process of going home and talking about their upcoming NBA decisions with their families, and the majority of the time, the end result sucks. Saying goodbye to our favorite Wildcats is never fun, but that’s what comes with bringing in top talent year in and year out.

Let’s break down the upcoming decisions of each Wildcat:

De’Aaron Fox

After a dominant regular season, it was just about guaranteed Fox would head to the NBA following his freshman year at Kentucky. After lighting up future top-3 selection Lonzo Ball in the Sweet 16, it would be the shock of a lifetime to see the fastest player in college basketball return next year. He has all of the tools NBA scouts drool over, showing off unbelievable court vision, elite speed, and beating even the best guards in America off the dribble to finish uncontested at the rim.

The one flaw in his game, shooting, even saw a dramatic improvement at year’s end. He was comfortable taking shots from behind the arc, and his pull-up jumper at the elbow was consistent. His shot absolutely kept defenders honest by tournament time.

I didn’t believe the John Wall comparisons going into the year, but he proved throughout his time at Kentucky he was deserving of such high expectations. He flourished in the spotlight, and showed off everything you can ask out of a college basketball player and NBA prospect.

Prediction: NBA Draft (Top 5)

Malik Monk

Similar to Fox, Monk impressed scouts from the minute he got on campus, and that infatuation never wavered. Monk is considered one of the best shooters in the draft, combined with top-level athleticism and dunking ability. On any given night, the freshman out of Lepanto, AR has the ability to drop 20+ points on you, and NBA teams were sold on that alone.

Early criticism of his game centered around his lack of effort on defense, rebounding, and poor shot selection. When Monk struggled to get shots to fall late in the year, he focused on improving on his weaknesses and converting them to strengths. His passing improved, his defensive intensity spiked, and his shot selection was less errant. We began to see the complete player Monk is capable of becoming, and nearly every draft board out there penciled him in as a top-five lock accordingly.

Without a doubt, he’s gone.

Prediction: NBA Draft (Top 5)

Bam Adebayo

Adebayo’s situation is much different than the other two “locks” on the team. To start the year, he would throw down some ferocious dunks and send an opponent’s shot or two into the stands, but he struggled to rebound and thrive on offense. In February, Bam looked like a man amongst boys, and many thought a jump into the lottery was inevitable. He was a walking double-double, as his efforts on the glass increased, and the offense moved through him in the paint.

In March, he still showed spurts of greatness, but never seemed to find consistency at the basket. Even in the Elite Eight game against UNC, Bam’s hands were unreliable and he fumbled the ball in the paint more often than not. He still gets blocked by weaker opponents at the rim, and fails to finish on some of the gimmes he is absolutely capable of converting.

He hasn’t developed much of an offensive game other than alley-oops, open dunks, and one-step jump hooks.

He’ll enter the draft, but it’ll be entirely centered around potential and his NBA-ready body.

Prediction: NBA Draft (Late 1st round)

Isaiah Briscoe

It’s not a secret Isaiah Briscoe wanted to leave last year, but his atrocious shooting percentage forced him to return. He has always been able to finish around the rim, find the open man, and flourish in the ball handling department, but he struggled to get pretty much anything other than layups to fall.

This year, his shooting behind the arc and from the line improved, he was a veteran leader for the freshman, and came up with clutch plays when no one else on the team did.

On the flip side, he turned the ball over far too often for a guard, and his shot still is nowhere near consistent. His three-point percentage went from 14% to about 29% this year, and his free throw percentage went from 47% to about 66%. Again, the numbers jumped, but not enough for scouts to drool over.

There were reports several teams had promised to select him in the second round last year, but he returned to try to inch his way into the first round. Unless he dominates in workouts, I don’t see a first round selection in his future, but he’ll take the opportunity to get picked up in the second round and earn a roster spot.

Prediction: NBA Draft (2nd Round)

Wenyen Gabriel

After showing some early success against weaker opponents, many scouts thought Gabriel would be yet another one-and-done for Coach Cal. Against talented bigs, however, his lack of strength became a glaring weakness that wouldn’t go away anytime soon.

When SEC play heated up, as did his three-point jumper, and the idea of Gabriel becoming a stretch four in the NBA sparked some more interest. When he wasn’t able to contribute in the post, he was able to knock down open shots.

To end the year, however, Kentucky was getting just about nothing from Gabriel, and he rarely got off the bench as a result. In the Round of 32 against Lynn Marshall and the Wichita State Shockers, fans groaned as each of his jumpers clanked off the rim (or hit nothing but air). He has converted just 16% of his field goal attempts since UK’s matchup against Alabama on Feb. 11.

The potential is there, and a sophomore season at UK would be massive for both his development and the Wildcats’ on-court success. Right now, however, he’s nowhere near ready to declare for the draft, and would be making a huge mistake by doing so.

Prediction: Stays at Kentucky

Isaac Humphries

The easy choice for Humphries would be to return to Kentucky, but after some of his recent comments about his discontent, that might be up in the air.

After preseason hype was off the charts, Humphries’ production on both ends of the court was extremely inconsistent this season. His touch around the basket wasn’t what it was last season, and he wasn’t as successful on the boards as many expected him to be. He didn’t have a bad year by any stretch, but he admittedly was not impressed with his growth during his sophomore campaign.

When asked by the media a few weeks back, Humprhies said his basketball future at Kentucky was up in the air, and he would evaluate his options this offseason.

When the spotlight hit during the tournament, however, he dominated. If it weren’t for you know what, we’d be talking about Humphries’ MVP performance against UNC, where he managed to drop a career-high 12 points and dominated on the glass. Hopefully he sees that game as a building block for next season as a Wildcat.

Prediction: Stays at Kentucky

Sacha Killeya-Jones

He has been adamant on social media that he will be returning next year at Kentucky, but after sitting out 23 games on the year and not logging a single minute since January 21, it makes you wonder.

Say what you want about rotations or being lost on the court, but Brad Calipari logged more minutes than a former five-star recruit since January.

As much as I like Sacha and believe he has the ability to be a big player for UK in the future, I’m not sold he’s returning.

Prediction: Transfers from Kentucky

What do you all think?


Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

28 Comments for Who stays and who goes?

  1. Melvit
    8:42 pm March 28, 2017 Permalink

    I could see Bam and Fox really wanting to come back like Wall and Cousins did, but I doubt they will.

  2. DelrayCat
    8:43 pm March 28, 2017 Permalink

    If Briscoe stays I hope he decides to do it for two more years. The D-league or overseas ball will always be there for him. His best bet is to continue to get better playing at UK and to enjoy the college experience. Otherwise, he may be better off leaving.
    I agree Hump and Gabriel will likely return, and I think both will be starters next year. SKJ could be like Perry Stevenson and maybe see big time action by the time he is a senior, but very little until then. He has talent, but looks lost at this level. The problem may be mental more so than physical limitations. He could be every bit as good as Willie C-S, but does he have the drive to really get better? The stacked front court of the incoming class likely plays a huge role with his decision.

    • JusSayin
      9:06 pm March 28, 2017 Permalink

      I feel like Humphries transfers to St. Mary’s or Cal let’s him play 4

  3. jomani
    8:46 pm March 28, 2017 Permalink

    Really highly doubt Monk goes top 5. Subpar defender and rebounder plus he’s undersized at 2. He’s not pushing one of the Fultz/Ball/Jackson/Tatum group out of the top 5

  4. scottg74
    8:48 pm March 28, 2017 Permalink

    Without a doubt Bam,Fox and Monk are gone. You don’t pass up lottery status. Briscoe all depends if he really enjoys school, lol. Our backcourt will be rather shallow. So if Cal lands another guard soon which he’s trying I’d say he’s a Harrison twin away.

    I think Cal put confidence in Hump to come back with Gabriel. Sacha I think is another Marcus Lee but leaves sooner.

  5. scottg74
    8:53 pm March 28, 2017 Permalink

    If Cal gets Knox and Mo, anyone else think maybe Cal trying to help Brad get a little pt if you lose up on size?

  6. original slappy
    8:57 pm March 28, 2017 Permalink

    Two (hardly) contributors returning. Going to be another NIT type season like 2013. We lost everything from the championship team and that’s exactly what’s going to happen this off season as well.

    • scottg74
      9:01 pm March 28, 2017 Permalink

      If Diallo stays with Hump and Gabriel, we’ll have a little leadership but no court time. It’s hard to pass up the best recruits if you can get them. I honestly don’t think Cal can make himself get 3-4 yr players.

    • donjohnson
      9:19 pm March 28, 2017 Permalink


    • RexRox
      9:20 pm March 28, 2017 Permalink

      If Nerlens doesn’t get hurt, the 2013 team makes the NCAA tournament. They weren’t going to win it but they would not have ended up in the NIT with a healthy Nerlens Noel.

    • WeareBBN
      10:53 pm March 28, 2017 Permalink

      Rexrox….That is not exactly true. That team was not doing well before the injury, there is no guarantee they make the tourney. Still it shows how well Cal can coach. He miss judged the talent of the recruits he took that year and we were horrible because that team did not have great talent and needed coaching. I don’t care who is playing, UK should NEVER lose to RMU, may be the most embarrassing loss in UK history. Normally Cal does a great job of recruiting NBA talent, but had tons of misses. Goodwin, Skal, POY, Twins, Briscoe, Mathews. He would have never taken Ulis if he did not miss on what he thought was better. If Ulis would have stayed 4 years he would have been most beloved CAT ever. One title in this day of average basketball teams is pathetic. Rick had us in 3 straight title games, 2 wins and an injury from 3 straight. Had he stayed here we would be number one in total titles. But we got tons of guys in the NBA….yeeeeee hawwwwwwww

    • catsarerunnin
      8:01 am March 29, 2017 Permalink

      WeareBBN…you’re a buffoon…that’s all.

    • CATandMONKEY
      8:27 am March 29, 2017 Permalink

      Rick didn’t win 2 title games here. Tubby hardly had what would be considered a NC team in 1998. Under no circumstances does or should Rick get credit for 98. Rick is a great coach. He is also a dick.

      Rick chose not to play someone who had medical clearance and wanted to play in 1997. Bad coaching lost him that one. My mother would have coached the 96 team to a NC.

      Agree wholeheartedly with catsarerunnin.

  7. scottg74
    8:58 pm March 28, 2017 Permalink

    and what’s the deal with Tai? I’m out of the loop

  8. donjohnson
    9:20 pm March 28, 2017 Permalink

    It’s all about high school class…that years class was awful and Noel tore acl. This year’s class is legit

  9. ukkatzfan
    9:21 pm March 28, 2017 Permalink

    Not a fan of National Enquirer articles. You forgot to mention Dr Phil is getting a divorce. Saying SKJ transfers is same as trash talking players in my book. I vote “No” on your articles.

    • Jack Pilgrim
      10:35 pm March 28, 2017 Permalink

      So one disagreement you have out of the entire list of players means it’s a National Enquirer article? If you watched SKJ’s body language on the bench during games, he always seemed upset he wasn’t getting minutes. Last year, Charles Matthews transferred the day after he told everyone he was returning. Stacey Poole was the biggest cheerleader on the sideline in Cal’s first year, yet he transferred after the year, as well. Not sure how I was off base there.

  10. az1006
    9:30 pm March 28, 2017 Permalink

    Could see Humphries going to play professionally in Australia. Think Jones transfers. We will be loaded next year, regardless.

  11. 3 fan
    9:31 pm March 28, 2017 Permalink

    Tai is gone. He can’t get on the floor and we have many bigs coming

    Tai gone
    SKJ gone
    In a surprise, Isaac gone (Cal said some are more worried about incoming players than what they need to do themselves)
    Briscoe gone
    3 freshmen gone

    Gabriel only retiring player who got any minutes, and he has a to. Of work to so

  12. Burgin
    10:11 pm March 28, 2017 Permalink

    I mean Terrance Jones came back, improved his outside shot and has done well in the NBA, I hope Bam does the same. I know it’s unlikely and while I love getting these great recruits it seems that they are considered disappointments if they don’t leave after one year. Everyone hates when their team loses in the tournament but it’s like we have 5-7 seniors every year. It’s hard when, like Tyler or someone wrote earlier in the week you start to develop a ‘love’ for a group and then their gone. I’m all for one and done but two and done isn’t anything to be ashamed of either.

    • Catsby80
      7:45 am March 29, 2017 Permalink

      I don’t think Bam will come back, but there is absolutely no reason he should be a late first round pick with his body. If he came back and developed any kind of dont-mess-with-me attitude, he would be scary and would surely increase his draft stock into the lottery. This is all probably a moot point, because I think he is 95% going to leave, but we’ll see. Hope I’m wrong – would love to have him another year.

  13. henderblue
    5:18 am March 29, 2017 Permalink

    Prediction: Bam doesn’t play with his back to the basket in the NBA

  14. symphonist41169
    9:05 am March 29, 2017 Permalink

    My predictions:
    Fox & Monk – gone
    Bam – 80/20. He should stay and work on catching the ball in the paint, will probably go if he’s projected in the 1st Round. I agree with henderblue, he won’t play with his back to the basket in the NBA. 4-spot.
    Briscoe – No way he should go. Glue guy, excellent defender, yes. At the collegiate level. I don’t see why he’d want to go without guaranteed money.
    SKJ – transfer. He’ll get lost on the bench again next year with the incoming freshmen, especially if Cal gets Bamba.
    Humphries & Wenyan – Both stay. The tournament opened Isaac’s eyes and I believe will light a fire under him. Even if he comes off the bench he should get double-digit minutes and points. Wenyan needs to re-find his 3-point range and concentrate on being the same type player as Derek Willis, especially defensively. Needs to live in the weight room.
    Wynyard – ???

  15. BCO
    2:32 pm March 29, 2017 Permalink

    Whether you have a point with SKJ or not….its still pretty rude. I really hope the kid stays, hes a really intriguing player and has the potential to be a monster by his JR year if he puts it together.

  16. hbond23
    10:09 pm March 29, 2017 Permalink

    I will probably be wrong on this, but I see Fox staying, along with Briscoe, Humphries, SKJ, and Gabriel. I just have a good feeling it’ll happen

  17. bhicks42
    6:55 am March 30, 2017 Permalink

    Fox, Monk, Bam
    Are gone. Not a question.

    Transfer to…..Wake Forrest?? Just a shot.

    Gone. Gets picked up after draft but plays in the d league for a year, then to Egypt.

    Stays at UK

    Stays at UK

    Stays at UK