The times, they are a-changing in college basketball. Between name, image, and likeness (NIL), the transfer portal, and legendary coaches like Mike Krzyzewski and Jay Wright retiring, the sport is entering a new era. How well is Kentucky suited for success ahead of Season 14 of the John Calipari era?
Bookies.com created a system to determine which programs are best equipped to become college basketball’s next great dynasty. Teams were scored 1-10 in 10 different categories ranging from coaching, recruiting, player development, and external factors like budget and resources. Kentucky is tied for fourth with North Carolina behind reigning National Champion Kansas, Gonzaga, and Villanova. The Cats scored 84 points, just six off the Jayhawks’ 90.
The ten categories are coaching experience, future program stability, program history, recent regular-season results, recent tournament results, recent recruiting, future recruiting, roster management/player development, budget/resources, and conference positioning. Here’s what Bookies.com’s Josh Markowitz had to say about Kentucky’s stock.
Although the rest of the SEC has improved and Kentucky has won just one regular-season title and one conference tournament title in the last five seasons, the Wildcats still typically operate at a level above the rest of the conference. They have the nation’s second-highest basketball expenditure behind Duke and the Blue Devils are also the only team that has recruited in the same stratosphere as Kentucky since John Calipari became the head coach in 2009.
While Calipari is pivoting somewhat to a more transfer-driven model to try and combat the roster continuity issues and overreliance on freshmen that have at times plagued the Wildcats, he continues to recruit high schoolers at an elite level. With National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe returning to school, Kentucky will be in a rare position next year.
A more veteran-heavy roster with 5-star freshmen Cason Wallace and Chris Livingston mixed in may just be what gets the Wildcats back to their first Final Four since 2015. The Kentucky faithful are certainly hoping the 63-year-old Calipari can adapt and hang some more banners before he leaves Lexington.
It’s still a little hard for me to accept Kansas as the 2022 National Champions considering the butt-whooping the Cats put on them in Lawrence. It’s even harder for me to believe they’re deserving of the No. 1 ranking here considering one of the categories is future program stability and major NCAA sanctions are supposedly looming for the Jayhawks. oh well. Time will tell.