After posting a 15-3 conference record and coasting through most of their competition last season, our composite poll ranked Kentucky at number 6 to start this season as John Calipari and the Wildcats once again have a plethora of elite young talent entering the program.
2019-2020 Record: 25-6
National Championship Odds: +1000
SEC Championship Odds: +170
Keion Brooks Jr: 4.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 0.4 BPG
Dontaie Allen: *Did not play in 2019-20 season due to a broken collarbone*
B.J. Boston: 5-Star Small Forward
Terrence Clark: 5-Star Shooting Guard
Devin Askew: 4-Star Point Guard
Isaiah Jackson: 4-Star Power Forward
Cam’Ron Fletcher: 4-Star Small Forward
Lance Ware: 4-Star Power Forward
|11/25||Morehead State||6:00 PM|
|11/27||Detroit Mercy||6:00 PM|
As per usual, the Kentucky Wildcats have sky high expectations heading into the 2020-21 season. Although minutes will be distributed among primarily freshmen, this is nothing new for John Calipari, who takes pride in preparing his recruits to be ready for the NBA Draft by the end of the their freshman season.
There are two incoming freshmen who seem to fit the “one-and-done” mold that Calipari has grown to love: B.J. Boston and Terrence Clarke: Boston and Clark, the respective #4 and #7 ranked recruits in the 2020 class, make Kentucky the only school to sign multiple top 10 recruits for the upcoming season. Boston, a 6-foot-6 small forward, is the first consensus top-five recruit to sign with Kentucky since Skal Labissiere back in 2015. This is a kid who has already proven that he was made for the spotlight. Playing high school basketball at Sierra Canyon, it is no coincidence that his breakout senior season that led to him becoming a consensus top-five recruit came after the big names of Bronny James and Zaire Wade enrolled at the school and joined the team. The celebrities, including LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, who attended Sierra Canyon’s games last season did not phase Boston at all, and instead he embraced the opportunity to show the world what he was made of. This is not only the sign of a great player, but also of a great leader who can perform in big moments.
The other part to this elite freshman duo is Terrence Clarke, an athletically gifted wing player with unlimited potential. Clarke is an elite scorer at all three levels and his length allows him to be a very good defender. Whether it’s in transition, the half court, or at the free throw line, expect Terrence Clarke to put up a lot of points for the Wildcats this year while also having a big impact on the defensive side of the ball.
The rest of Kentucky’s core figures to be very reliable as well. They have a highly touted freshman point guard in Devin Askew, and Isaiah Jackson, Cam’Ron Fletcher, and Lance Ware are all 4-star forwards with talent and physicality that will compete with any frontcourt in the country.
On paper, there is no reason why this Kentucky team shouldn’t have as good a chance to win the 2021 National Championship. Their only potential flaw is that they have close to no college experience, which is why I listed sophomore forward Keion Brooks Jr as one of their key players heading into this season. He won’t be asked to contribute much from a statistical standpoint, but Brooks Jr’s ability to lead this stacked freshman class both on and off the court might have a effect on Kentucky’s success this season.
There is no doubt that Kentucky will be the more talented team every time they step on the floor. The question is if this elite freshman class, led by B.J. Boston and Terrence Clark, will be able to gel together and play fundamentally sound basketball on a nightly basis. We all know how great each individual player, but the fate of the Wildcats’ season will be determined by how much their chemistry can develop throughout the season. With the recruits that Calipari has brought in this season, Kentucky is a prime example of championship or bust, and I believe this can be the year that we finally see Kentucky bring another trophy back to Lexington.