UK Men's Basketball

Expectations soar for Cats in 'too early' top 25 rankings

PJ Washington's withdrawal from the NBA Draft helps Coach John Calipari believe Kentucky can have plenty to crow about next season.
PJ Washington's withdrawal from the NBA Draft helps Coach John Calipari believe Kentucky can have plenty to crow about next season. aslitz@herald-leader.com

The Kentucky men's basketball roster for 2018-19 still hasn't fully taken shape, but that hasn't stopped a host of media outlets from speculating on where the Cats should rank in the preseason.

Hint: It's high.

With PJ Washington's announced return, prognosticators believe they have enough information to project Kentucky in their top fives. If UK is able to land the reclassification of committed 2019 guard Ashton Hagans and the graduate transfer of Stanford's Reid Travis, look for expectations to jump even higher.

Myron Medcalf of ESPN updated his forecast Thursday morning and placed UK at No. 3 behind Kansas and Duke. UK ticked up one spot in Medcalf's estimation after Washington's announcement.

The high turnover at Kentucky simply doesn't matter for Calipari, Medcalf says: "They're young. They're talented. That's Kentucky."

Aaron Torres of KentuckySportsRadio.com has the Cats at an optimistic No. 2 behind Gonzaga.

"Please understand that having Kentucky at No. 2 isn’t an “I write for KSR” thing. It’s an “I really like the makeup of this team going into next year” thing." Torres writes, later adding "To me, this is by far Kentucky’s best team since 2015, and by far its most genuine threat to cut down the nets since then as well."

CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish has the Cats at No. 4 in the projections he updated Thursday afternoon.

"If Stanford transfer Travis Reid enrolls, as expected, watch out. A second national title is in play for John Calipari.," Parrish says.

UK freshman PJ Washington has gained some attention for his mean mug on the basketball court this postseason.

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