#2 Kentucky Men's Basketball 2019-2020 Preview

Kentucky Wildcats
2019-2020 Overall Rank: #2
Conference Rank: #1 SEC
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As usual, Kentucky loses a ton of talent. All four of their double digit scorers from a year ago are gone and three of them were selected in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft. Of course this is what Coach John Calipari does and he will be more than ready to mold this group into a national title contender; and he does it extremely well. It remains to be seen how all the pieces will fit together, but on paper all of the pieces are there.
2018-19 Record: 30-7, 15-3
2018-19 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: John Calipari
Coach Record: 305-71 at Kentucky, 709-209 overall
Key Departed Players:
PJ Washington, Forward, 15.2 ppg
Tyler Herro, Guard, 14.0 ppg
Keldon Johnson, Guard, 13.5 ppg
Reid Travis, Forward, 11.2 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Ashton Hagans, Sophomore, Guard, 7.7 ppg
Immanual Quickley, Sophomore, Guard, 5.2 ppg
Nick Richards, Junior, Forward, 4.0 ppg
EJ Montgomery, Sophomore, Forward, 3.8 ppg
Key New Players:
Dontaie Allen, Freshman, Guard
Keion Brooks Jr, Freshman, Forward
Brennan Canada, Freshman, Forward
Ben Jordan Sophomore, Forward
Johnny Juzang, Freshman, Guard
Tyrese Maxey, Freshman, Guard
Zan Payne, RS Freshman, Guard/Forward
Nate Sestina, Senior, Forward, Grad Transfer from Bucknell
Riley Welch, Junior, Guard. JC Transfer
Kahlil Whitney, Freshman, Forward
The lone returning starter is point guard Ashton Hagans. Hagans averaged 7.7 points and 4.3 assists as a freshman and he will clearly be the leader on the floor. It is always beneficial to have an experienced point guard and, by Kentucky standards, Hagans is a very experienced point guard. Immanual Quickley, Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery were all key roleplayers last season and will look to take on a larger role in 2019-2020. Quickley should again provide a nice offensive spark off the bench with his three-point shooting ability, while Richards and Montgomery are both quality defenders and rebounders. Bucknell graduate transfer Nate Sestina brings some experience to the roster after averaging 15.8 points and 8.5 rebounds with the Bison last season. And, of course, there is yet another superb recruiting class coming into Lexington. Tyrese Maxey could be the team’s top scorer from day one. The 6-3 guard can score in every way possible. Kahlil Whitney is a long 6-6 forward who can battle in the paint and use his quickness to be effective attacking the basket. Johnny Juzang should find some minutes as a freshman too thanks to his shooting ability. Keion Brooks is a versatile 6-7, 205 pound forward who can do a bit of everything. He should find a spot in the regular rotation. Once again the success of this team will come down to how quickly Coach Calipari can get all of the pieces together. This will certainly be one of the most talented teams in the country, but it remains to be seen if the group can come together and make big plays when it matters the most.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.8 (89th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.7 (29, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.7 (28, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.0 (19, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.8 (323, 14)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.4 (122, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.9 (68, 4)
Rebound Margin: 9.4 (4, 1)
Assists Per Game: 13.5 (164, 6)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.6 (143, 4)
Madness 2020 NBA Draft Rankings:
#12 Tyrese Maxey
#19 Kahlil Whitney
#32 Ashton Hagans
#36 Johnny Juzang
#56 Nick Richards
Madness 2019 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#10 Tyrese Maxey
#12 Kahlil Whitney
#27 Keion Brooks
#29 Johnny Juzang
#92 Dontaie Allen