UK outlook unclear as Calipari awaits transfer decisions

The look of the Wildcats roster depends on the return of graduating guard Davion Mintz and transfer eligibility Sahvir Wheeler.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – John Calipari is awaiting a crucial transfer eligibility decision before knowing who will be there to help the Wildcats bounce back from the coach’s losing first season at Lexington.

As has been the case since Calipari arrived in Kentucky in 2009, the Wildcats have undergone their annual makeover. This spring’s revenue included multiple signings from players from an overloaded NCAA transfer portal.

The look of the Wildcats roster depends on the return of graduating guard Davion Mintz and transfer eligibility Sahvir Wheeler.

“I’m excited about what we’re doing and where he’s at and the type of team we’ve put together,” Calipari said Friday at a virtual press conference. “But it’s a lot of work to do. Now we must have this summer. Summer was important to us, I never realized how important it was.

“Sometimes you get to where, well, when I start training them, I train them. Well I’ve always said I don’t have a magic wand and last year kind of proved it, would you say?

Like almost all programs, the pandemic created protocols that kept Kentucky’s highly prized recruits separate until the fall practice. The young Wildcats struggled to develop a chemistry or identity, culminating in a 9-16 finish that left them out of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013 and with just their second losing record since 1927.

The usual exodus of players to the NBA Draft began during the offseason. Kentucky also had to deal with the tragic death of first-year guard Terrence Clarke, passed away on April 22 following a car accident in Los Angeles. Clarke was one of five players who decided to go pro.

Isaiah Jackson announced on Friday that he would stay in the NBA Draft. Mintz left open the possibility of returning to school after being assessed.

Guard Devin Askew and forward Cam’ron Fletcher were also transferred, leaving the Wildcats to fill those voids through the transfer portal with some immediately eligible thanks to the NCAA’s one-time transfer exception.

Last season, Kentucky took former West Virginia forward Oscar Tshiebwe 6-9, who averaged 8.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game after leading the Mountaineers in goals, rebounds and blockages in the first year. The Wildcats also added former Georgia guard Wheeler, last season Southeastern Conference assist leader CJ Fredrick, Iowa perimeter threat, and Davidson goalie Kellan Grady. .

Add to that recent signing TyTy Washington, a Top 12 prospect, and Calipari has suggested Kentucky could have up to six guards next season. As Mintz ponders his options, SEC chairmen may soon decide to drop the rule requiring intra-conference transfers to be absent for a season. If so, Wheeler could become eligible immediately.

“The whole country gives these young people the opportunity to transfer everywhere and in all leagues,” Calipari said. “I can’t imagine we could do anything different, but I’m not in this room to talk about it or vote on it.”

Sophomore forward Keion Brooks Jr. also has until 11:59 p.m. ET Sunday to decide whether to make the draft, although Calipari has hinted he is expecting him back on campus next month.

No matter how things turn out, Calipari isn’t planning any new moves and eagerly anticipates the earlier look that wasn’t possible last summer. And with any luck, better results.

“For all of us, going through that makes you stronger, really gets you to assess everything and go through everything, which isn’t bad at all,” added Calipari, whose coaching and recruiting methods have been criticized on social networks and sports radios. “But I would have preferred not to have experienced what I have just experienced.

About Harold Fergus

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