After finishing the 2015-16 season with 27 wins, a share of the SEC regular season title and an SEC tournament crown, the Kentucky Wildcats return with designs on winning the program’s ninth national title. As expected under head coach John Calipari the Wildcats have lost key contributors to the NBA, with Jamal Murray being a first round selection and both Tyler Ulis and Skal Labissiere being second-round draft picks. For many programs losing three quality options, especially two players in Murray and Ulis who combine to average 37.3 points per game with the latter also being the team leader, would be extremely difficult to overcome.
But Kentucky isn’t “many programs,” and under Calipari one highly regarded recruiting class is followed by another the next season. Kentucky’s six-member freshman class has five five-star prospects led by guards De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk and power forward Edrice “Bam” Adebayo, and it’s ranked right there with Duke for the best in the country entering the 2016-17 season. Add that group to returnees such as guard Isaiah Briscoe and forward Derek Willis, and Kentucky has the talent needed to play deep into March.
Here’s an early look at the Wildcats’ roster, with their regular season beginning at home against Stephen F. Austin November 11th.