¿Quién se va y quién se queda en el equipo de baloncesto de Kentucky?

0
10


LEER MÁS


Día del partido: Oakland 80, Kentucky 76

Haga clic a continuación para obtener más cobertura de Herald-Leader y Kentucky.com del partido de baloncesto masculino del jueves por la noche entre Kentucky y Oakland en el Torneo de la NCAA en Pittsburgh.

Expandir todo


This Kentucky basketball season is finished, and one of the most exciting teams in years fell well short of its ultimate goal.

[–>

The Wildcats lost 80-76 to 14-seeded Oakland on Thursday night, suffering a major upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in the last three years.

[–>

Kentucky basketball offseasons under John Calipari are never dull, with several players shuffling off to the NBA draft, and — in more recent years — entertaining the thought of entering the transfer portal. This offseason could be even more eventful.

[–>

Though he still has five years remaining on his contract, Calipari’s own future at UK will probably be a topic of conversation in the days ahead. The Hall of Fame coach, who turned 65 years old last month, just wrapped up his 15th season in charge of the Cats, but the program’s Final Four drought will now be extended to 10 years — second-longest in UK history — and the next March Madness will mark 13 years since Kentucky’s only national title in Calipari’s tenure.

[–>

The Wildcats have not advanced past the second round of the NCAA Tournament in five years.

[–>

A lot of difficult decisions will be made in the coming weeks.

[–>

Which UK players will be back for another run next season? Calipari typically meets with each player individually within days of the final game, so it won’t be long before the first wave of stay-or-go decisions are announced. He actually said after the loss to Oakland that he planned to meet again with his players in his hotel room later Thursday night. The deadline for college players to withdraw from this year’s NBA draft will be May 29, so it could be a while before some of those decisions are finalized.

[–>

Here’s a look at every scholarship player on the roster, with predictions for what each might do.

[–>

Leaving Kentucky

[–>

Obviously, fifth-year players Tre Mitchell and Antonio Reeves have both played their final games for Kentucky. The two veterans of the UK basketball team used up their last season of eligibility to play for the Wildcats, with Reeves emerging as a possible NBA draft pick following his spectacular run in 2023-24 and Mitchell likely to get looks from NBA teams this offseason.

[–>

Two other players are almost certainly leaving the program.

[–>

Rob Dillingham: The offensively electric freshman from Hickory, North Carolina, quickly established himself as a key member of the Wildcats early in the regular season and ultimately emerged as a projected lottery pick in this year’s draft.

[–>

Dillingham’s stock is now as high as ever. The latest mock drafts from The Ringer and The Athletic have the 6-foot-3 guard at No. 8 and No. 9, respectively, and ESPN’s updated list of the top 100 best available prospects for the NBA draft has Dillingham at No. 3 overall, the top college basketball player on the board. He has played his final game at Kentucky.

[–>

Justin Edwards: Once viewed as a possible No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, Edwards’ stock has dropped considerably over the past few months as he struggled to transition his all-around game to the college level. He enjoyed a breakthrough performance — going 10-for-10 from the field and scoring 28 points in a win over Alabama last month — and has had other good games in recent weeks, particularly his showing in UK’s win at Tennessee.

[–>

Edwards is still projected as a back-end first-rounder by The Ringer and The Athletic, though he’s dropped to No. 43 on the ESPN list. In other cases, this might make for a tough decision. In this one, it’s important to keep in mind that Edwards is represented by Klutch Sports Group — the agency that advised Chris Livingston to stay in the draft last year — and the freshman is also relatively old for his class. He’ll turn 21 in December. A return to school for another year could lead to further slippage of his draft stock. The expectation is that he will leave Kentucky.

[–>

Rob Dillingham, Aaron Bradshaw, Reed Sheppard y Justin Edwards de Kentucky abandonan la cancha después de la pérdida del equipo ante Oakland en el torneo de la NCAA en Pittsburgh.
Rob Dillingham, Aaron Bradshaw, Reed Sheppard y Justin Edwards de Kentucky abandonan la cancha después de la pérdida del equipo ante Oakland en el torneo de la NCAA en Pittsburgh. Silas Walker swalker@herald-leader.com

Reed Sheppard’s decision

[–>

A month or so ago, it was still sounding like Reed Sheppard would return to UK for at least one more season, despite a rising NBA draft stock that had already reached lottery range. The Kentucky native’s profile has exploded even more since then, with serious talk from reputable outlets pegging him as a possible No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft.

[–>

The 6-3 guard could make millions in name, image and likeness deals if he did return to UK for next season, but that number would probably not come close to the guaranteed money he’d be turning down in this year’s draft. He might not go No. 1, but the word in basketball circles has been that the San Antonio Spurs would love to pair Sheppard with budding superstar Victor Wembanyama to create a one-two combination that could thrive for at least a decade. The Spurs currently have the third-worst record in the league and will almost certainly be drafting in the top five this year.

[–>

As much as Sheppard and his family love Kentucky basketball and respect the tradition of the program, it would’ve been a major surprise — before Thursday night’s game — if he decided to walk away from that kind of situation in the NBA for one more season in college. (And his father, Jeff Sheppard, is a financial adviser, don’t forget.)

[–>

If any player would turn down such an opportunity to play another year for Kentucky, it’s Reed Sheppard, and Thursday’s result — he went 1-for-5 from the field and scored only three points — might have some effect on what comes next. Sheppard has talked often about wanting to make an NCAA Tournament run with Kentucky. A first-round exit and a loss to a 14 seed is not what anyone was expecting.

[–>

Sheppard is likely to go through the NBA draft process, and, as thorough as he’s been with past basketball decisions, it shouldn’t be a surprise if he at least leaves open the option to return in the meantime.

[–>

“I have not thought about that at all,” Sheppard told the Herald-Leader after the loss. “Right now, I’m focused on this game and this season. I have no idea.”

[–>

What’s next for D.J. Wagner?

[–>

Long ranked as the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2023 class, D.J. Wagner started to slip down those lists late in his high school career but still came to Kentucky as a potential one-and-done lottery pick. His draft stock has also fallen in recent months, though the expectations surrounding him were probably unfair, a product of his family history — the son of Dajuan Wagner and grandson of Milt Wagner, both college stars and NBA draft picks — and his arrival onto the national scene while he was still in middle school.

[–>

Wagner had a solid freshman year, averaging 10.3 points and 3.3 assists per game entering the NCAA Tournament, showing a high level of defensive effort and playing much of the season while dealing with an ankle injury.

[–>

The 6-4 point guard is still No. 34 overall on ESPN’s latest list of NBA draft prospects, though he’s not mentioned at all in The Athletic’s most recent mock draft. Typically, a player that comes to Kentucky with Wagner’s type of draft profile is gone after one season, no matter his draft stock, but this situation could be different.

[–>

Wagner is still just 18 years old, the youngest player on this UK team by several months. He and his family also have a high level of trust in Calipari, and there have been rumblings around the team in recent weeks that Wagner and his camp will seriously consider a return to Kentucky to further his development.

[–>

Expect him to go through the draft process this spring. Don’t be surprised if he keeps his name in the draft pool. But don’t be surprised if he’s a Wildcat for the 2024-25 season.

[–>

“I ain’t thinking about none of that right now,” Wagner told the Herald-Leader. “We just lost a game. That was the main goal — coming in here and winning. And being a good competitor. So I’m not focused on that stuff right now. Or the future. I’m just focused on this moment.”

[–>

The three 7-footers

[–>

While each of them had their moments, Kentucky’s trio of 7-footers never reached the level of game-to-game consistency many were hoping for this season. A big reason for that was probably the fact that none of them were ready to go in November, all losing much-needed development time over the summer and preseason due to injuries and other issues. The outlook for each:

[–>

Aaron Bradshaw: The Kentucky player with the most scattered preseason draft projections — due to an offseason foot injury and his raw skill set — some saw Bradshaw as a potential No. 1 pick, while others didn’t even have him in the first round. As the season progressed, he was the Kentucky big man getting the least amount of playing time. Bradshaw is not included in The Athletic’s full mock draft, and ESPN has him at No. 72 overall, outside of the 58-pick draft range. Still, the vibe around UK’s team is that Bradshaw will most likely not be back next season. He, too, is represented by Klutch Sports, which managed to get Livingston selected late in last year’s draft, with a guaranteed contract coming shortly thereafter. This decision could still go either way, but the most likely scenario is that Bradshaw will be playing basketball elsewhere next season.

[–>

Zvonimir Ivisic: The Croatian 7-footer’s tiresome journey to Kentucky and quest for NCAA eligibility has been well-chronicled. While he didn’t get to enjoy a full season of college basketball — and there remains a ton of untapped potential that could benefit greatly from another year at Kentucky — the plan with Ivisic all along has been that he would spend just one season with the Wildcats before moving on to the 2024 draft. That remained the expectation coming into this week, even though he is not widely projected as a lock to be selected this year. (ESPN has him at No. 60.) Ivisic has already been through the NBA draft process twice, so if he enters his name a third time, he’ll have to stay in and will not be permitted to return to college. He said Thursday night that he is not shutting the door on a return to Kentucky.

[–>

“I like it here,” Ivisic said in the postgame locker room. “I would like to come back. But, we’ll see.”

[–>

Ugonna Onyenso: Emerging as Calipari’s go-to-guy defensively among the 7-footers, Onyenso flashed plenty of potential on that end of the court. His offensive skill set is still raw, and he said he put the development of that aspect of his game on the back-burner following a foot injury over the summer that robbed him of the preseason and the start of the regular season. Once Onyenso was able to make his debut in December, he said he concentrated on defense, which he viewed as his best chance to earn more playing time in the short term and help Kentucky win games.

[–>

There’s still a lot of potential here, and Onyenso is also not a lock to be drafted — No. 51 on the latest ESPN list — so a return to school could benefit the 19-year-old center. The general feeling is that he’ll ultimately move on from Kentucky, though that is no lock, and folks around the program acknowledge that his situation is one of the toughest to predict. It’s worth noting that Onyenso’s name was entered into the transfer portal last offseason — without any announcement from the player himself — and there are some in his camp that will probably advise him to pursue other opportunities this offseason. Don’t bank on a return to UK.

[–>

Adou Thiero podría ser un jugador clave para Kentucky la próxima temporada, si regresa a los Wildcats.
Adou Thiero podría ser un jugador clave para Kentucky la próxima temporada, si regresa a los Wildcats. Silas Walker swalker@herald-leader.com

Possible UK returnees

[–>

There are only three other scholarship players on Kentucky’s roster.

[–>

Adou Thiero: The sophomore guard — listed at 6-8 and still growing — emerged as a fan favorite and a major contributor this season with his athletic, daring play on a team that lacked overall physicality. If he can settle into more of a defined role, the 19-year-old should be one of the top players on next season’s roster. While there are no certainties in the age of the transfer portal, Thiero is viewed as the most likely returnee among Kentucky’s core group from this season, and those in the Wildcats’ program are expecting and hoping he will be back in Lexington for a junior year. He told the Herald-Leader after Thursday’s game that he would talk to his family before making a decision.

[–>

Jordan Burks: A late addition to last year’s recruiting class, Burks had relatively no outside expectations to make an impact this season, though he settled into the rotation early on as an out-of-position big man while UK’s three 7-footers remained sidelined. When those players returned, his playing time decreased dramatically. Burks could return as a depth player next season, but the realities of the transfer portal loom — with those perennial promises of a larger role elsewhere — and it won’t be a surprise if he explores that route.

[–>

Joey Hart: Another late addition to last year’s recruiting class, Hart — a 6-5 guard from Indiana — played only 10 minutes all season, scoring just three points. Calipari often talked about having “11 players” in his possible rotation — leaving Hart out of that mix — and there have been no indications that he would see a major boost in playing time if he sticks around. It’s possible he’s back, but — barring a major shift — Hart doesn’t appear to factor into Calipari’s overall plans for next season either.

[–>

Kentucky’s 2024 recruits

[–>

There are no guarantees with the players on the current roster, but the Wildcats do have six commitments from the high school recruiting class of 2024: point guards Boogie Fland and Travis Perry, shooting guard Billy Richmond, small forward Karter Knox, versatile big man Jayden Quaintance and throwback center Somto Cyril.

[–>

Of those players, Quaintance — a 6-9 prospect with a potentially elite inside-outside game — is projected to be the biggest-impact newcomer. Fland, Richmond and Knox — the younger brother of ex-Cat Kevin Knox — are all expected to contribute immediately, while Perry (Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball) could also break into the rotation. Cyril is an imposing physical presence with a knack for shot-blocking, but he’s currently seen as more of a long-term project.

[–>

Calipari will need quite a bit more on his roster to be a realistic Final Four contender in 2025.

[–>

Thiero’s return would be big for Kentucky, and Burks could also be a key contributor, if he comes back. Getting one of the 7-footers to stick in Lexington would be huge — Quaintance could easily slide over to the 4, in that case — but that’s far from a sure thing.

[–>

Wagner, of course, could position himself for a possible star turn if he comes back. That would also take some of the pressure off Fland — No. 25 in the 247Sports rankings — in the early going.

[–>

Obviously, Sheppard’s return would be huge, enough to shift the entire outlook for next season’s team. But the chances of that have dwindled over the past few weeks.

[–>

Unless there are a few surprises that go in Kentucky’s favor this offseason, Calipari and his coaching staff will almost certainly need to look to the transfer portal for reinforcements. There should be plenty of potential talent there, but Calipari has been hesitant to lean too hard in that direction. Reeves was the only transfer he signed two years ago. Mitchell was Kentucky’s lone transfer last summer, and he was a late addition, jumping into the portal only after the departure of West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins relatively deep into the offseason.

[–>

This could be another mass exodus of Wildcats. The decisions will start rolling in soon enough.

[–>[–>[–>[–>[–>[–>[–>

Esta historia fue publicada originalmente. 21 de marzo de 2024, 22:58.

Ben Roberts es el escritor de ritmos de baloncesto masculino de la Universidad de Kentucky para el Lexington Herald-Leader. Anteriormente se especializó en cobertura de reclutamiento de baloncesto del Reino Unido y creó y mantuvo el blog Next Cats. Es nativo del condado de Franklin y se unió al Herald-Leader por primera vez en 2006.
Apoya mi trabajo con una suscripción digital



Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here