LEXINGTON — Less than a month after Kentucky’s shocking NCAA basketball tournament loss to Saint Peter’s, the hype for the next Wildcat team is already growing.
National media began reporting their 2022-23 standings far too soon in the wake of Kansas’ NCAA title on Monday, and John Calipari’s team is usually included among the top teams on the list.
At least two outlets named the Wildcats the No. 1 team in their first standings. Even the websites most skeptical of Kentucky two years after a 9-16 season and a year after arguably the worst NCAA tournament loss in program history put the Wildcats somewhere in their top 10.
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Where Kentucky basketball ranks in early 2022-23 polls
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It would be silly to put too much stock in the preseason rankings released just hours after the previous season ended, but there’s even more reason to take Kentucky’s place in those rosters with a grain of salt.
The general rationale for Kentucky’s top-five finish is that Calipari will fire the bulk of a roster that looked like perhaps the best team in the nation before a series of late injuries. However, many of these decisions are still pending.
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For now, we know super senior guards Davion Mintz and Kellan Grady are gone. Little-used reserve Dontaie Allen has entered the transfer portal. Junior forward Keion Brooks is testing the draft waters.
College Hoops Today lists rookie Shaedon Sharpe among Kentucky’s projected comebacks in its No. 1 ranking rationale, but there’s a growing consensus among NBA draft analysts that Sharpe will never leave the UK. play a game for the Wildcats. The rest of the top-five ranking for Kentucky is done with the caveat that National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe will return to the UK, but he’s still likely to at least test the waters of the NBA Draft and needs their visa status clarified to cash out. on lucrative NIL deals next season.
ESPN ranks Kentucky No. 7 assuming Sharpe and Tshiebwe leave, but even that ranking was set assuming Brooks and point guard Sahvir Wheeler return to school.
More additions through the transfer portal are likely for Kentucky, but those additions will depend on who leaves. With the deadline for college players to drop their names from the NBA draft pool not set until June 1, it’s unlikely we’ll know exactly what Kentucky’s 2022-23 roster looks like until the summer. .
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So while these rankings can be fun, they’re sure to change significantly in the coming months.
One thing is clear though: no one is willing to lower expectations for Kentucky after three years without a win at the NCAA Tournament.
Email Jon Hale at [email protected]; Follow him on Twitter at @JonHale_CJ.