Kentucky Basketball Update
If you have followed us for the past seven years you are aware that our post and coverage was vastly reduced this past season. The main reason for that is that due to Covid limitations we could not get media passes this past football and basketball season. Due to that we took a bit of a break from our coverage. I continued to provide content and coverage from twitter but it was limited on our other platforms. Well, I am here to say that I am back and recharged and ready to provide more regular coverage and input on the site. So with that said let’s get right into everything I know about Kentucky basketball.
The big news currently is the impending return of assistant coach Orlando Antigua. I was told by a source back in January that Cal had been advised by people he trusted that coaching staff changes were needed and that he needed to bring Antigua back. Recruiting was a big part of it but his voice on the staff was needed. Tony Barbee and Bruiser Flint are virtually the same voice as Cal. Joel Justus mostly agrees with everything Cal does and Jai Lucas was a young coach in his first year at UK so he was not going to push against anything. The loss of Kenny Payne took away the alternate voice that players would often seek out. Antigua will provide that once again. When I was given the information during the season I opted to sit out it because I thought it would be better to release it after Kentucky’s season ended. As soon as the Cats lost in the SEC tournament I released it on twitter that it was a strong possibility that Orlando would rejoin the staff in the offseason. The comical thing was all the Illinois fans that said how absurd my tweet was. If you follow me on twitter you know I have let them hear about the last couple days.
The biggest question about how Antigua was going to come back had to do with what spot on the staff would open up. Cal has worked to get guys head coaching jobs in this off season and apparently Barbee is likely to be the next head coach at Central Michigan. That in itself opens up a spot for Orlando but it seems that Cal wants more of a shakeup than that. John Robic is likely to retire and I expect Bruiser Flint to slide into that spot which is a non recruiting non bench coach position. Joel Justus has interviewed for several jobs and has not landed one as of yet. Cal is extremely loyal and does not want to let anyone go, but I believe it will happen with Justus if he does not get another job soon. The reported assistant that could come in for him has been Chin Coleman from Illinois but I don’t think that deal is a sure thing. Either way I think there will be tow new coaches on the staff.
The other questions that everyone has is in regards to the roster. Isaiah Jackson will definitely stay in the draft, Keion Brooks is likely to transfer and I believe that Davion Mintz is likely to leave as well but could possibly be persuaded to stay. In terms of incoming players it seems extremely likely that CJ Fredrick from Iowa ends up at Kentucky. He is an elite shooter that would give them guard depth. The question is if he is ok knowing his role will be off the bench next season. If he is on board with that he would be a nice addition. He would have three years of eligibility remaining which would be nice. The point guard position is the main concern for most fans and many names have been thrown around. The name I will continue to mention is Marcus Zegarowski from Creighton. He is currently entered in the draft but I have been told that if he withdraws from the draft it is extremely likely that Kentucky would be very involved with him. Marcus Carr from Minnesota is a similar case but I can tell you with confidence that Zegarowski is the staffs top want. Tyty Washington is another point guard answer that would come from the highschool ranks. I think Cal likes him a lot and if he was ready to commit to UK I think Cal would not pass up the chance to get him. That would potentially keep them from getting Zeg but it is not worth the risk unless you are extremely confident that Zeg will withdraw from the draft. Adam Miller is a combo guard transferring from Illinois and he would be a good replacement for Mintz if he wants to follow Orlando to UK. Question is if there is room for him and Fredrick. Personally I think there is because they play different roles, but the minutes crunch could scare either one of them away. There are a slew of other options to keep an eye on as well. I will try to update on those when needed.
The core of next years team can be very good, add in an elite point guard and they can be great. Damion Collins will be one of the best freshmen that Kentucky has had in a few years. Fans should be excited for his arrival. Oscar Tshiebwe will give the Cats a strong bruising presence inside. He and Collins are going to block a ton of shots next season. Dontaie Allen should she an increased role next year and I think his game will step up as well after a summer of work. Kellan Grady is a career 2,000 point scorer that transferred from Davidson. He is a scorer that will be on the court a lot. Lance Ware and Jacob Toppin should both improve a good amount this off season and can both contribute to a winning team. Nolan Hickman and Bryce Hopkins will both be good freshmen that will be able to develop at a more natural rate because they will be surrounded by experienced players. I will go through the roster more in depth at a later date but I am confident that the talent will be there to be a very good team.
Big Blue Madness is 6 months away but Kentucky basketball season never really stops and that is more true than ever this year. Follow me on twitter for the most up to date information on breaking news. Thanks for sticking with us all these years!