It’s almost that time again, Big Blue Nation! Another season of Kentucky basketball is nearly upon us. And while every season begins with lots of excitement, it also usually begins with lots of uncertainty. Over the last decade, UK fans have had to learn a completely new roster virtually every season as John Calipari ushered in the era of the one-and-done in Lexington. If you are like most fans, you probably don’t know much about any player on this roster outside of the one returning player from last season, Keion Brooks. And in many ways, I’m right there with you. I’m not sure I would recognize Lance Ware if he walked into a room with a name tag that said “Hi, my name is Lance Ware.”
This is Lance Ware. He plays basketball for the University of Kentucky Wildcats.
Thus, I have done the only thing I know how to do, which is to write this 2020-2021 Kentucky Basketball season preview in the most ridiculous way possible. Without further ado, here are my 3 bold predictions for the upcoming season.
Bold Prediction #1: BJ Boston and Terrence Clarke will form the best duo since Scooby Doo & Shaggy. For the first time since 2016, Calipari has landed 2 top-10 players in this year’s recruiting ranking. ZOINKS! According to 247 Sports, Boston is the 5th ranked player in this year’s class, while Clarke is #8. Both can play the shooting guard/small forward positions, and we have probably not seen two guys like this in the Cal era. For whatever reason, we have struggled to find players who can play the “3” position. This has really been a MYSTERY. And the last time we had a wing player of the caliber of Boston and Clarke was in 2012 with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (and we all know how that season ended). Now for the first time, Calipari has TWO studs at the position, so I expect this team to be a well-oiled MACHINE by the time March comes around and will leave opposing coaches saying, “ruh-roh” trying to game plan for them.
Bold Prediction #2: Kentucky goes undefeated in the non-conference schedule. Because of Covid-19, the non-conference schedule will be much shorter this season and will only include 8 games. So maybe it’s not as bold of a prediction as in a normal year to say we go through that portion of the schedule unscathed. But with the exception of 2010 and 2015, we have seen every Kentucky team in the Cal era struggle early on in the year and lose games that they shouldn’t. But let’s break down the schedule:
- Morehead State (home): Only Louisville loses to Morehead.
- Detroit Mercy (home): Although I hear they are a real contender for the WNBA title this year.
- Richmond (home): But in the words of Admiral Ackbar, this could be a trap game.
- Kansas (location TBD): This is by far the most dangerous game on the schedule, but Kentucky is 2-1 against Kansas in the Champions Classic, and Bill Self’s hair piece typically doesn’t fair too well away from Phog Allen Fieldhouse.
- Georgia Tech (Atlanta): Why are we playing this game in Atlanta again? They are terrible. My high school Whitesburg Yellowjackets team could have beat these Yellowjackets.
- Notre Dame (Home): Luke Harongody ain’t walking through that door.
- UCLA (Cleveland): Pardon me while I do a quick Google search: Is Mick Cronin still the coach at UCLA?…I have confirmed Mick Cronin is still the coach at UCLA and therefore Kentucky will win this game handedly.
- Louisville (Away): We are NOT losing to UofL. Especially not this year after Louisville’s coach Chris Mack made his infamous video calling out Calipari about scheduling. In the video, Mack facetiously says he wants to do whatever is most convenient for John Calipari. Well, another win in this rivalry would be very convenient.
Bold Prediction #3: This team learns the ways of the force and become Jedi’s. Or to put in a way non-Star Wars nerds can understand, this team goes to the Final Four. I know you’re asking yourself: “Tyler, wasn’t one Star Wars reference with Admiral Ackbar enough for one article?” Well the answer to that is no, it’s not. In fact, in the words of Billy Mays, “but wait, there’s more!”
Sophomore transfer Jacob Toppin was recently declared eligible to play this season after transferring to Kentucky from Rhode Island. Most everyone knows Jacob’s brother, Obi, who was the most dominant player in college basketball last season at Dayton. Obi Toppin happens to have the same first name as Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, and I for one think that is a sign that this is a team of destiny.
We have two excellent “pilots” at point guard in Devin Askew and Davion Mintz. It has to be comforting for Calipari to not have to rely on a “Solo” point guard, but will instead be able to rotate Askew and Mintz in and out. From what I hear, these two can fly up and down the floor and can even make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.
We have an intimidating “wookie” in 7-footer Olivier Sarr who will protect the rim, and might even attempt to rip an opposing player’s arms out of their sockets if we get close to losing a game.
Finally, we have the “return of the Jedi” in Keion Brooks. Brooks has completed his first season of training with Coach Cal (obviously Yoda in this scenario), and looks to be ready to take on that Luke Sywalker leadership role for one final assault against the Evil Empire of college basketball. Looking at you, Duke.
While I’m on this whole Star Wars kick, let’s just scratch that earlier scenario of Boston and Clarke being the best duo since Scooby Doo and Shaggy. It’s obvious they are the best pair of teammates since R2-D2 and C-3PO.
In all seriousness, this team has all the pieces for a special season. There is depth at every position. There is length at every position, and therefore should have all the makings of an excellent defensive team. There are two future NBA lottery picks in Boston and Clarke. And there is enough experience with sophomore Brooks and senior transfers Sarr and Mintz to help the freshman get through any early struggles they face.
Roll out the ball, Coach Cal, and let’s freaking go!