Following the end of the 2021-22 basketball season on Monday night, now the rating season is “Too Early” and many believe the Kentucky Wildcats will be in good shape next season.
After losing to Saint Peter’s and with such uncertainty in the lineup, the Great Blue Nation demands positivity.
So let’s look at where some outlets occupied Kentucky and what they were supposed to say, as well as some forecasts for the starting lineup for next season.
College Hoops Today (John Rothstein): № 1
Projected start 5:
Mr. Sahvir Wheeler
Mr. Shadon Sharp
Mr. Chris Livingston
Ф Keon Brooks (early NBA Draft)
S Oscar Tsybwe
Designed bench: Jacob Topin, CJ Fredrick, Damion Collins, Bryce Hopkins, Lance Weir, Cason Wallace
Key losses: Ty Washington, Kelan Grady, Devion Mintz
Key newbies: Shaydan Sharpe, Chris Livingston, Cason Wallace
This forecast is the best case scenario for Kentucky, which would have the best national player of the year at the Oscars Tibwe, a potential No. 1 in the 2023 NBA Draft at Shadon Sharpe, and attentive retirees at Sahvir Wheeler, Keon Brooks and Jacob Topin, as well as a very deep and talented bench when it includes Cason Wallace.
Sports News: №1
Wildcats will not be here if we publish this list in the fall unless Oscar Tsybwe, Sporting News Player of the Year, returns for another season. He has won enough such trophies that he no longer has anything to prove as an individual teammate, but he may want to win a game in an NCAA tournament before leaving, and for him there may be money in the NIL category. And it is unlikely that he will be the choice of the first round.
Tsybwe would be wise to join the draft to get the best information that seems almost certain, but he could come back. The Wildcats have hired the top two wings in 2022. In 2022, they should benefit more from this year’s freshmen, Bryce Hopkins and Damion Collins, and should still have quarterback Sahvir Wheeler in charge of the attack.
With a few more prospects gathered from the broadcast portal, it may be enough to make disgruntled Kentucky fans forget about St. Peter’s.
Sports Illustrated: No2
Perhaps the biggest draft decision that can really go either way is in Lexington, where Oscar Tsybwe’s rebound has to decide whether to return after a record-breaking season with the Wildcats. Be that as it may, Tsybwe, his skill set for NBA purposes is quite limited, and in an era of name, image and likeness he will have great opportunities to make money if he stays in Kentucky. Add him next to senior Sahvir player Wheeler and an elite recruiting class that may even include 2022 draft candidate Shedan Sharpe, and Kentucky looks busy for 22-23 years.
24/7 Sports: No2
Projected starting lineup: Sahvir Wheeler, Cason Wallace, Chris Livingston, Keon Brooks, Oscar Tibwe
247Sports Composite class rating: No25
The national player of the year, the return of Tsibwe is a big key to this ranking, although Wildcats seems to be looking for a portal to transfer great people just in case. Brooks is checking the NBA draft, and we didn’t include Shadon Sharpe, a potential mascot because he is projected to be in the top 10. Wallace and Livingston are five-star prospects, and Wallace’s commitment to defense will be welcomed immediately. Is it enough to shoot outside at this point? It’s too early to worry about something like that, though it becomes an interesting question when you connect Jacob Topin to the top four in that lineup.
CBS Sports: No3
The Wildcats ranking is based on CBS Sports National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe, who is returning to school along with other freshmen Sahvir Wheeler and Keion Brooks, the latter of whom announced in the NBA Draft but retains the right to attend college. For now, I guess 5-star guard Shadon Sharpe will come in and stay on the NBA Draft given he’s in the top 10, but John Calipari’s Wildcats could move to No. 1 if Sharpe eventually decides to play next season in the UK.
ESPN: № 7
The Wildcats will be fighting for a place in № 1 when Oscar Tibwe or Shadon Sharpe return to Lexington, but given their current status in the draft, we have both players to leave. But John Calipari will have a talented band next season anyway. Sahvir Wheeler and Keon Brooks Jr. are back in the starting lineup, and the addition of five-star rookies Cason Wallace and Chris Livingston will add a few more gameplay. There must be a breakthrough player ahead, be it former five-star rookie Damion Collins, Jacob Topin or someone else, but there are options. Don’t forget the former transfer from Iowa to CJ Fredrick, one of the elite shooters in university basketball who missed last season due to a hamstring injury.
Projected starting lineup:
Sahvir Wheeler (10.1 PPG)
Keisan Wallace (№ 14 in ESPN 100)
Chris Livingston (№ 12 in ESPN 100)
Keon Brooks Jr. (10.8 PPG)
Damion Collins (2.9 PPG)
There are some other well-known “early” ranking teams that Kentucky is likely to face next season, including Arkansas Razorback, Tennessee Volunteer, Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn Tigers in the Southeastern Conference game.
Don’t forget to play for the Michigan Wolverines, Michigan State Spartans and possibly the UCLA Bruins in the CBS Sports Classic in a non-conference game.
That’s a lot of good teams, and next year’s team will have a challenge.
With all that said, there are hundreds of transfers and announcements that have not yet been announced, so take it all with a pinch of salt.
Over the next few weeks, players will begin to announce their decisions, and I expect the list to begin to form before clear expectations can be set.
Saying this, where do you think Kentucky should be in the ranking of basketball college in early 2022-23? Let us know in the comments section!