Something that is an annual tradition for most university programs around the country is coming to the Kentucky men's basketball program this week for a change. A college memory that for a strong decade started to dissolve away for the top of the food chain, aiming for one-and-dones instead four-year players who "stayed a while." When Kentucky opens up the doors on Wednesday to go 40 minutes against the Vanderbilt Commodores, they'll also be having their own 'Senior Night.'
With the transfer portal becoming such a bigger option in the landscape of college basketball over the last few years, then with covid granting an extra year to players shortly before that, it seems like a lot of players have stayed longer in college than expected, leaving Kentucy with 6 seniors slated to hear their names called this week. I often found myself getting confused on which player was in what class as of late, because you can have a college basketball senior but a one, two, three, or four year player for your team and they still be labeled as one. It's a lot to keep up with, honestly.
John Calipari was asked late Saturday evening after the Auburn win if he knew which of his players would be participating in the event, and he responded that he did not know but expected "a bunch of them" to do so. Well, on Monday, the school announced that all six seniors have plans to go through the ceremony and be honored by the fanbase.
The seniors on this roster include Oscar Tshiebwe, Jacob Toppin, Brennan Canada, Sahvir Wheeler, CJ Fredrick, and Antonio Reeves. Five of those six are transfers with Brennan being the only true four-year Wildcat.
That's the cool thing about the new era of college basketball though. Blue-bloods can still go after their one-and-dones (Cason Wallace) while still picking up pieces from the portal (Antonio Reeves) to help compliment and fill in any holes in what it carves out to be in the summer. And you never know... you might just get a multi-year guy off someone else's bench who becomes the National Player of the Year during the process. Quite spectacular.
While fans for years have watched Kentucky have overwhelming success and meet great accomplishments, there's always been a nagging narrative that they never got to really know the players that well during it. That take is completely valid and all, but now it seems that both parties can be met. You get the best of both worlds with the new rules in place. And with both parties being met, it puts Kentucky in a position they aren't used to being in: Having a Senior Night!
The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET. on March 1, with the senior festivities taking place beforehand. The school will announce the official time of it in the following days, but I believe if you are in your seats no later than 6:15 p.m. you won't miss a thing. It's the last home game of the season so get in your seats as fast as you can!