If college basketball polling extended into the offseason, I would be shocked if Kentucky wasn't a top-5 team, and would certainly believe that they were the No. 1 team in the country starting off next year. That’s because reigning National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe will be returning to the squad, which practically guarantees the Wildcats a high ranking. They are once again going to be a very square bet to win the NCAA Tournament in 2023, but those bets are juiced for a reason. This team is good, and they are out looking for revenge after their embarrassing loss to St. Peters in the first round of last year's tourney.
There are several players that are confirmed to be returning this season for Kentucky. As mentioned above, Tshiebwe will wait one more season to start his NBA journey, and that is the most crucial return for Kentucky. He was being projected as an early-to-middle second-round pick in the 2022 NBA Draft and wants to prove to teams that he can improve his offensive capabilities to include more than just his under-the-rim game. Forward Daimion Collins is poised to break out in 2023, even with Tshiebwe's return to the lineup. CJ Fredrick is one of the best shooters in all of college hoops when healthy, and he'll be back next year. Problem is, he gets injured far too often to count on him on a nightly basis. Jacob Toppin is returning after originally entering his name in the NBA Draft process. His return marked the end of Keion Brooks' time with the team, as it didn't make sense for both he and Toppin to stay with Tshiebwe and Collins already starting. Brooks went to Washington through the transfer portal. Sahvir Wheeler will be back after being one of the best assist men in the country in 2021-22.
There are some notables that won't be back. Guard Ty Ty Washington will head to the NBA Draft, and for good reason. He's extremely skilled and can score at a high rate, while also possessing a fantastic frame. He will most likely be a high draft pick when all is said and done. Kentucky will lose a lot of production in its backcourt this offseason, with Kellan Grady and Davion Mintz also departing. That’s over 30 points per game that Kentucky will have to replace in the backcourt alone.
As for recruits, guard Cason Wallace is primed for a major role next season. He's likely a one-and-done player with the talent that he possesses, and he'll most likely slot in beside Wheeler as the starting SG. Chris Livingston is also the sort of player that is one-and-done in college, possessing great talent and potential that he will get to show off on national television for the professionals. The biggest question will be where he will find his place on a team that already is stacked with star talent at every position, but John Calipari will find a way to tap into the best of his abilities.
This is a top-5 roster in college basketball as it stands, and will be a serious contender for the Championship come next season, with their current odds at 10/1. It's a redemption tour, and Kentucky will be looking to follow in Virginia's footsteps after they lost to #16 UMBC, and then won the national title the following year. Anything can happen.