We all know that it takes a joint effort from the entire team to bring home the national championship, however, with the 2021-2022 season approaching quickly there are a few players (in my mind) on Kentucky's roster that I believe need to have a big year in order for the Wildcats to bounce back from last seasons struggles and make a run into the NCAA tournament.
Davion Mintz - This one might be obvious, but grad transfer Davion Mintz was Kentucky’s leading scorer last season with 11.5 ppg. It’s not just the scoring for Mintz that makes him valuable though, he is really good in finding that open man as he averaged 3.1 assists as well. Mintz along with Sahvir Wheeler should make a good combo when working the ball around and getting open looks.
Oscar Tshiebwe - Tshiebwe will need to play a huge roll this season, not necessarily offensively, but on defense and grabbing plenty of rebounds. Last year Tshiebwe only played 10 games with the Mountaineers but still managed to score 8.5 points and grab 7.8 rebounds per game. This is something Kentucky has lacked the last few seasons, a tough, physical guy down low (such as Towns or Cousins).
Ty Ty Washington Jr - Although the only things I’ve seen from Washington are clips from his high-school games and what we seen from Big Blue Madness, the freshman from Phoenix has shown great potential in such a short time. Washington, Frederick and Allen were all getting buckets from beyond the 3 point line during BBM. Washington is very explosive and can get to the rim when he wants to but also has ball handling skills and the creativity to make plays for others which I love to see more than anything. Get your popcorn ready.
Keion Brooks - Then there is junior Keion Brooks Jr. who only played in 16 games last season due to a calf injury, however, in those 16 games Brooks managed to average 10.3 ppg and 6.8 rebounds per game. In my ideal starting lineup there is Mintz, Washington, Grady, Brooks and Tshiebwe. Between Keion and Oscar they should be able to control the paint and contest many shots that get brought in on them.
This Kentucky team is truly loaded with both raw talent and more experienced players then the usual Wildcat team coached by Head Coach, John Calipari. Between the returners and the transfers, I believe the experience that we lacked in prior season will make a big difference in this team and that will reflect on what kind of season we see out of this group. I’m not going to make any predictions just yet but I think this will be a good team to sit back and watch. Enjoy the ride.
(All Images credited to UKAthletics.com)