The fear is a return to last year.
As Kentucky basketball's five players head into this week's NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, individual aspirations clash with team goals.
While the players hope to hear something from scouts that says it's safe to stay in the draft pool, forgive UK fans for hoping the evaluations preach patience.
The Big Blue trio of Hamidou Diallo, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kevin Knox are out the door. Each hired an agent. PJ Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt submitted their names, received Combine invites, but resisted the agent commitment. Wenyen Gabriel filed the draft paperwork, but was not invited to the Combine. He has not hired an agent.
Should Washington, Vanderbilt and Gabriel not remove their names by the May 30 deadline for the June 21 draft, then John Calipari will be right back where he was a year ago, working with another ridiculously young roster that relies heavily on true freshmen.
Possible holdovers Sacha Killeya-Jones and Tai Wynyard both opted to take the transfer route. Wynyard was not a factor after the non-conference part of the schedule last season and wound up being suspended. Killeya-Jones became a valuable sub.
Nick Richards is back. The 6-foot-11 center was slow to develop last year, though he still has the athletic ability to be a an effective post player. Quade Green is back. The sophomore-to-be squashed rumors he would join the transfer train, despite an incoming class heavy on backcourt talent.
Then there's Jemarl Baker, his rookie season scrapped by knee surgeries. The 2017-18 Cats could have used Baker's perimeter shooting. If healthy, Baker will have a role in Calipari's rotation as a redshirt freshman.
True freshmen comprise the rest of the roster. There's point guard Immanuel Quickley, shooting guard Tyler Herro, wing Keldon Johnson and power forward EJ Montgomery. There might also be point guard Ashton Hagans, a Georgia guard who may re-classify from the class of 2019 so he can play college basketball this season.
That's a terrific quintet, one most scouting services place right behind Duke in the recruiting rankings. Without some upperclassmen to lead the way, however, the Cats figure to again be looking at starting five freshmen with a couple of veterans coming off the bench.
Last year, that scenario was good, not great. Kentucky finished tied for third in the SEC regular-season standings. It won the conference tournament in St. Louis but lost in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament despite being the highest seed remaining of the four teams who reached Atlanta's South Region.
If Washington, Vanderbilt and Gabriel all return to join the new blood, the Cats could be expected to do better in 2018-19, maybe even much better. But will they return?
The rumor mill claims Washington will stay in the draft if he receives word he's a first-round pick. That seems unlikely. ESPN draft guru Jonathan Givony ranks Washington No. 51 among his top 100 prospects. Still, it only takes one team to tell a player he's wanted.
Vanderbilt is a much trickier case. The 6-9 forward missed the start of the season because of a foot injury and the entire postseason because of an ankle injury. Does the talented Texan return to UK to prove he can stay healthy? Or, fearing another injury, does he go ahead and make the jump in hopes of being drafted? Givony has Vanderbilt ranked No. 65 on his list. Sixty players are chosen.
The Washington and Vanderbilt decisions could affect Gabriel's decision. If both return, Gabriel could be fighting for playing time. If one or both take the pro plunge, Gabriel could be a key, experienced component, maybe a Darius Miller in 2012.
We probably won't find out much this week. The rubber meets the road after the Combine. That's when evaluations are given, career decisions made, futures formed. That's true for individuals and their current/former teams.
Will Kentucky's makeup be different next year, or much the same as a year ago?