Kentucky basketball roster: Predicted starting lineup, bench rotation, depth outlook for 2022-23 season

Kentucky basketball roster: Predicted starting lineup, bench rotation, depth outlook for 2022-23 season

Kentucky’s end to the 2021-22 season at the hands of No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s in the first round of the NCAA Tournament cast a pall over an otherwise strong season for the Wildcats, who rebounded from a dreadful 2020- 21 to reclaim their place among the SEC and the national elite. With a much older than normal roster formula, coach John Calipari fielded a side that spent much of the season in the top 10 before their campaign ended in stunning fashion against the Peacocks.

With the pain of that loss as a backdrop, Kentucky returns with two anchors from last season’s roster in point guard Sahvir Wheeler and center Oscar Tshiebwe for the 2022-23 season. Around them will be a mix of new faces and returning role players as the Wildcats embark on the road to redemption.

By the time the 2023 version of March Madness arrives, it will be almost four calendar years since the UK last won the NCAA Tournament. But with productive veterans in key positions and a pair of five-star freshmen arriving on campus, there’s enough talent in Kentucky to get the Wildcats back on the championship trajectory they’ve enjoyed for much of it. of Calipari’s mandate.

Now that the free agency version of college basketball has died down, it’s time to take a look at Kentucky’s roster and assess how it’s shaping up as we begin to turn the page on a new season.

Projected starting composition

1. Sahvir Wheeler

5-10 | 180 | Sr.

Wheeler led the SEC in assists with 6.9 per game last season in his first year with Kentucky after two seasons as a Georgia playmaker. At 5-foot-10 and a career 27.5 percent 3-point shooter, Wheeler has his limits. But he’s a great old-school playmaker who can ease an attack, break the ball, and provide critical leadership for veterans.

2. Cason Wallace

6-4 | 185 | Prof.

Wallace finished the 2022 recruiting cycle ranked No. 5 overall in the class by 247Sports. He should be able to slip naturally into the role TyTy Washington played last season for the Wildcats as a combo guard who plays tenacious defense. Calipari compared Wallace to Eric Bledsoe and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander when signing him. No wonder it landed at No. 7 in Kyle Boone’s 2023 NBA Mock Draft Last week.

3. Chris Livingstone

6-6 | 200 | Prof.

Livingston closed as the No. 15 overall prospect in the 2022 class, according to 247Sports. He will bring athleticism and versatility to the wing for the UK and could push his way into the lottery pick conversation if he can demonstrate consistent 3-point shooting. For ground spacing reasons, it would also be huge for the United Kingdom if Livingston could keep the opposing defenses honest from the perimeter. The first feedback on this quest seems positive.

4. Jacob Toppin

6-9 | 200 | Sr.

With the transfer of Keion Brooks to Washington, Calipari has options here. Toppin is listed so far averaging 17.7 minutes per game while mostly coming off the bench. He’s a versatile defender and an elite finisher at the rim, but he’ll struggle for minutes with a handful of teammates.

5.Oscar Tshiebwe

6-9 | 255 | Sr.

Tshiebwe swept the National Player of the Year awards circuit after averaging 17.4 points, 15.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game while shooting 60.6% from the floor in his first season. with the program after transferring from West Virginia. Now he’s hungry for more success as a team after racking up a ridiculous amount of individual material. Tshiebwe’s physique, toughness and touch around the rim are a problem for opponents.

Bench

Antonio Reeves

6-4 | 185 | Sr.

After averaging 20.1 points for Illinois State as a junior last season, Reeves faces a big transition into his fourth season of college basketball. Instead of being the dude for a bad team, he’ll fight for a role on a great team in a much tougher conference. It’s conceivable that he could work his way into a starting job, but it’s easy to see him serving as an instant attacking dose off the bench.

Lance Ware

6-9 | 223 | Jr.

After seeing his role dwindle in sophomore year, Ware seemed like a potential transfer candidate. Instead, the former top-50 prospect returns to fight for a rotation spot as a junior. Calipari is trying to bulk up Ware, and if he can stretch his attacking game a little, he could become the type of step up that the UK have been missing.

CJ Frederick

6-3 | 190 | Sr.

Fredrick knocked down 46.6% of his 3-point attempts in two seasons at Iowa before missing all of last season in the UK due to hamstring surgery. With Kellan Grady out of eligibility and the UK already among the least 3-point focused teams in the country, having Fredrick as a reliable outside threat would be huge for the Wildcats.

Daimion Collins

6-9 | 202 | Prof.

Collins closed the 2021 recruiting round as the No. 14 player in the class, according to 247Sports. But with several other players also playing for frontcourt playing time, Collins recorded just 7.4 minutes per game as a rookie.

Depth

Adou Thiero | 6-5 | 180 | Prof.

Thiero is “only” a four-star freshman, making him an understated late addition by British standards. But there’s a reason Calipari offered him a scholarship, and there’s a lot to love about his long-term benefit. Thiero was a late bloomer, and he may not have finished growing yet. So, while he’s unlikely to play a significant role in the upcoming season, he’s a worthy developmental player in a program that had spots available.

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