After missing out on Hunter Dickinson, are the Kentucky Wildcats doomed from being the No. 1 team in college basketball next season?
One of Big Blue Nation’s biggest, recent gripes about John Calipari is the lack of star power being brought to Lexington from the transfer portal. While I don’t necessarily agree given the recent important production of Antonio Reeves, CJ Fredrick, and who else…oh yeah, the 2022 Wooden Award winning big man Oscar Tshiebwe, I do feel like Cal missed out on a major opportunity to bring in the nation’s best available transfer and add to what is easily the most loaded recruiting class in the country going into next season.
Last week, Hunter Dickinson announced that he is transferring from Michigan to play for Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks. He chose Kansas over Kentucky, Maryland, and others.
With Tshiebwe, Frederick, Reeves, and Jacob Toppin declaring for the NBA Draft, there is a complete overhaul of the roster needed, and adding Dickinson would have provided the perfect centerpiece to add to a team centered around true freshmen.
There’s so much that Dickinson does well that Kentucky missed out on: an ability to pass out of double teams, great post scoring, and an ability to stretch the floor with respectable outside shooting.
If all of those players that declared for the draft stay in the draft, losing Dickinson would be even more of a gut punch and the pressure would be intensified to try to get San Diego State forward Keshad Johnson, who is reportedly visiting Lexington later this week.
The Wildcats have the best freshman class in the country. Aaron Bradshaw, DJ Wagner, Robert Dillingham, and Justin Edwards are all incredibly talented, but as things stand, they have zero depth and veteran leadership and will need to desperately find that in the transfer portal.
If Kentucky was able to land Dickinson, you could argue that the addition of a few extra depth pieces would still be needed, but talent and roster-wise, they would shape up to be one of the best rosters in all of college basketball and should be in serious consideration of being a preseason top ten team.
Even with some of the most specially talented recruiting classes in the Calipari era, they became limited in their potential without proper veteran leadership and depth. It’s no coincidence that the only championship in this time came with a loaded recruiting class AND talented veterans like Terrance Jones and Doron Lamb (who was actually the game-high scorer in the national title game).
If there has been a program in the country that has proven what the painful learning curve can be from a team with limited college basketball experience, it’s Kentucky.
Missing out on Dickinson is massive on the surface because of his immense talent and major college basketball experience, but it’s an even bigger issue considering there is limited depth and laughably little college basketball experience on this roster as currently constructed.
Even if Kentucky was to add a transfer portal piece or two, Big Blue Nation fans will have to be very patient as this group gels and learns some basketball lessons the hard way.
Patience, of course, isn’t something this fanbase will be eager to display given the disappointments of the last few seasons.