UK has opened every season under Calipari in the top 25
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Two early season publications point towards the Kentucky men’s basketball team once again being one of the top contenders during the 2017-18 season. Blue Ribbon’s College Basketball Yearbook posted the Wildcats at No. 5 in its preseason rankings, while Athlon voted UK at No. 6.
Kentucky will field its youngest team ever under ninth-year head coach John Calipari. The Wildcats will have to replace 92.6 percent of their scoring and 76.6 percent of their rebounding from a team that went 32-6 and advanced to the Elite Eight a season ago.
Calipari has led his team to a No. 1 ranking in six of eight seasons at the helm in the two major pools (the Associated Press Top 25 and the USA Today Coaches’ Poll), and every team has spent time among the top 25 during his tenure.
With UK’s top-five ranking in the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, UK has been tapped a top-five team in seven consecutive seasons by the publication. In addition to the preseason rankings, freshman Hamidou Diallo was picked to the All-America Fourth Team.
Other Southeastern Conference teams included among the top 25 in Blue Ribbon’s rankings were Florida (No. 8) and Alabama (No. 24). Kentucky is set to face several other preseason rated teams in Kansas (No. 4), Louisville (No. 6), West Virginia (No. 9), UCLA (No. 22) and Virginia Tech (No. 25).
Athlon has five UK foes ranked in its preseason tabulation. Kansas (No. 3), Louisville (No. 5), West Virginia (No. 10), Florida (No. 13) and Texas A&M (No. 14) are on the slate for the Wildcats this season in what should be one of the best schedule’s in the country.
Calipari will welcome seven newcomers to the 2017-18 roster. The signing class was regarded by the Recruiting Services Consensus Index as the best recruiting haul ever in its rankings.
In addition to the star-studded recruiting class, UK will also welcome back returners Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones and Tai Wynyard, in addition to Diallo, who enrolled midyear last season but did not play.