Preseason College Basketball Rankings: #4 Kentucky Wildcats

For the second straight year, Kentucky does something that is unusual for them: they return a lot of their minutes from last season.

Preseason College Basketball Rankings: #4 Kentucky Wildcats

One of the most impactful draft decisions to happen was the 2021-22 AP Player of the Year and Naismith Award winner Oscar Tshiebwe deciding to return to school. He really could not have played better for the Wildcats last season after transferring from West Virginia. He was incredible, and you should expect the same out of him again this year. The other returning starter is former Georgia transfer, Sahvir Wheeler. His 6.9 assists per game last season was by far the leader in the SEC. He also averaged double-figures in scoring. Jacob Toppin and Daimion Collins return as well. Toppin should move into the starting lineup this season after mostly coming off the bench in his two years in Lexington and, before that, his one year at Rhode Island.

It feels weird to say that Kentucky’s sixth-ranked recruiting class is a comparative disappointment, but it is. It is the first time since 2008 that they do not have a top-two recruiting class. That is more than John Calipari’s entire tenure. But regardless, their class is still really good. It is led by two top 15 recruits, Cason Wallace and Chris Livingston. Wallace is a super-talented combo guard who can do everything and has drawn comparisons to Jrue Holiday. Livingston is a physical, explosive small forward and is a really good finisher. Top 40 recruit Ugonna Onyeso is really long and was one of the best shot blockers in prep school last year. He likely won’t have a huge role as a freshman due to Tshiebwe’s dominance, but look out for him in the future.

The one transfer they bring in is Antonio Reeves. The Illinois State Redbird was terrific last year, averaging 20.1 points per game and shooting 39% from three-point range. That was a large part of his winning the MVC Most Improved Player award. CJ Fredrick transferred in from Iowa last summer. However, he missed the entire season with a hamstring injury. He is arguably the nation’s best shooter, especially from three.

Projected Lineup

C – Oscar Tshiebwe (17.4 PPG, 15.2 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.6 BPG)

PF – Jacob Toppin (6.2 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.3 SPG, 0.6 BPG)

SF – Chris Livingston (#12 overall recruit on 247 Sports)

G – Cason Wallace (#8 overall recruit on 247 Sports)

PG – Sahvir Wheeler (10.1 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 6.9 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.1 BPG)