Dribble Handoff: Predicting how Kentucky basketball will bounce again in 2021-22 season with revamped roster

Previous to final season’s 9-16 calamity in a pandemic-shortened season, Kentucky averaged 30 wins per 12 months in its first 11 seasons beneath John Calipari. The worst season within the stretch was a 21-12 end within the 2012-13 season marked by UK’s solely absence from the NCAA Event beneath Calipari till final season. 

What adopted was a season of extremes. On the heels of the disappointing season, the 2013-14 staff additionally struggled by Kentucky’s requirements beneath Calipari by securing only a No. 8 seed within the NCAA Event. However after coming into the Large Dance with 10 losses on their ledger, the Wildcats bought sizzling on the proper time and made a run to the nationwide title sport. As soon as there, Kentucky misplaced to UConn, however the deep postseason run solidified that the Wildcats weren’t going wherever, even after a few comparatively powerful seasons. 

As Kentucky seems to rebound once more within the 2021-22 season from a brand new low beneath Calipari, can the Wildcats bounce again once more? With this system’s roster for subsequent season coming into focus following the latest additions of transfers Sahvir Wheeler and CJ Frederick together with the signing of five-star freshman guard TyTy Washington, it is a good time to begin predicting what this staff could accomplish subsequent season.

Kentucky, Gonzaga and the faculty coaches who ought to ultimately observe Jay Wright into the Corridor of Fame. Hearken to the newest episode of Eye on School Basketball under.

For this week’s version of the dribble handoff, our staff of writers is giving their takes on what we must always count on from Kentucky subsequent season. Win whole is just for the common season and would not embody a forecast of postseason efficiency. 

Gary Parrish

26 wins | third within the SEC | Candy 16 of NCAA Event

As famous on the newest episode of the Eye On School Basketball Podcast, I actually like the way in which John Calipari has remade his roster. The Wildcats ought to go from a younger staff that could not shoot to a a lot older staff that may shoot due to a recruiting class highlighted by 4 transfers and two five-star prospects. The additions of Sahvir Wheeler, TyTy Washington and Kellan Grady will permit Calipari to have three succesful ball-handlers on the ground on the similar time — if he needs. Grady is a fifth-year participant and confirmed shooter who scored greater than 2,000 factors at Davidson. Wheeler is a third-year participant who led the SEC in assists per sport this previous season. And Washington is a probable one-and-done level guard who’s considered a reliable perimeter risk. Then there’s CJ Frederick, a switch from Iowa who shot 46.6% from 3 in two seasons with the Hawkeyes. And the fourth switch, Oscar Tshiebwe, is a third-year participant who led West Virginia in factors and rebounds two seasons in the past. He’ll probably begin within the center for Kentucky alongside no less than three different non-freshmen, which can clearly be uncommon for UK within the Calipari period. Backside line: it is fairly clear Calipari made a degree to get outdated and add capturing. He is executed each. And now the Wildcats are set for a pleasant bounce-back season that ought to lead to a top-three end within the SEC.

Matt Norlander

23 wins | 4th within the SEC | Candy 16 of NCAA Event

Kentucky will rank among the many five-or-so most fascinating groups to trace heading into the season. John Calipari has assembled a roster not like something he is had prior, and coming off that dangerous 2020-21, it should put an environment of urgency and uncertainty round this program that it is by no means had earlier than. Was final season an aberration? Will bringing in a bevy of transfers and closely investing in level guards and perimeter shooters pay instant dividends? It is also been a very long time since Kentucky could have been this outdated. I feel we’ll have the Wildcats bouncing out and in of the AP High 25 subsequent season. I feel Kentucky will likely be within the NCAA Event however will not be a top-four seed. I feel the SEC goes to be a top-three league within the sport, and which means UK shifting up goes to be a problem. However I do count on a flip from final 12 months. Parrish laid out the roster particulars above. The schedule will likely be a problem. Mark me down for the highest 4 of the SEC to complete as follows: Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky. I am going to break up the distinction a bit and predict that Kentucky has a good-not-great common season, after which Calipari will get a few wins within the NCAAs with a 6 or 7 hooked up the Wildcats’ title when the bracket is revealed subsequent March. 

Kyle Boone

27 wins | 2nd within the SEC  | Elite Eight of NCAA Event

Kentucky has not solely improved its roster this offseason after a 9-16 season — it has gotten older. This is likely one of the most skilled groups John Calipari has fielded in Lexington, on paper. Whereas there’s apparent concern that the majority of this roster, whereas heavy on upperclassmen, nonetheless has not performed collectively (with seven incoming gamers both transfers or recruits), there’s a number of cause to be assured on this bunch. UK has a star huge in Oscar Tshiebwe, a pair of starting-caliber level guards in Sahvir Wheeler and TyTy Washington and — dare I say it?! — shooters to encompass them. Kentucky may have the ability to shoot it competently from 3-point vary. CJ Fredrick, Kellan Grady, Dontaie Allen and TyTy Washington all ought to be average-to-above-average outdoors shooters. That is an improve from the previous couple of seasons, in what was clearly a precedence for the workers this offseason. Is that this probably the most proficient UK roster Calipari has ever had? No. Most likely not even shut. However the mixture of ability, expertise and IQ ought to make this Wildcats staff among the best within the SEC, even in a 12 months the place Alabama and Arkansas could enter the preseason as top-10 groups.

David Cobb

25 wins | 4th within the SEC | Second spherical of NCAA Event

As I famous within the intro paragraphs — the final time Kentucky missed the NCAA Event, it didn’t bounce again straight to the highest. Though it in the end made the nationwide title sport in 2014, that run got here with the Wildcats as a No. 8 seed within the NCAA Event following a 12-6 SEC end. The SEC has gotten higher since then, and it is onerous to examine Kentucky instantly returning to the 15-3 league marks it loved in 2019 and 2020. My expectation is for this staff to match intently with the 2017-18 squad, which completed 26-11 (10-8 SEC) with a Candy 16 exit. The SEC was sturdy that season, sending eight groups to the Large Dance, and it ought to be sturdy in 2022. Auburn is reloading and ought to be eligible for the postseason once more, and Alabama and Arkansas are established as energy gamers within the league now. As long as the NCAA would not drop the hammer on LSU (or Auburn for that matter), the convention ought to ship half its groups to the NCAA Event and will attain eight once more. Kentucky will likely be in that group, however until a famous person emerges, this staff will likely be restricted by its newness to one another and bow out after a decent bounce-back season.


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