LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The college basketball roster churn is not over. It has merely taken a 30-second pause.
In an offseason unlike any other, Louisville, Kentucky and Indiana will all welcome at least five new players next season.
Quinn Slazinski out at Louisville. TyTy Washington in at Kentucky.
Jerome Hunter out at Indiana. Noah Locke in at Louisville.
Devin Askew out at Kentucky. Tamar Bates in at Indiana.
Set aside time to memorize names and numbers.
Here are today’s questions:
If the 2021-22 season opened today, would the Cardinals, Wildcats or Hoosiers open tip-off ranked in the top 25? And which program has done the best job of upgrading its roster?
I emailed or texted those questions to several writers and analysts.
The first response came from Bart Torvik, operator of barttorvik.com, one of my favorite analytics sites. This was his response:
“My sense of the conventional wisdom is that Kentucky would be in the Top 25 but Indiana & Louisville probably in the ‘others receiving votes,’ with Indiana higher.”
For the record, Torvik has incorporated newcomers into his computer formula for next season. The early results placed Kentucky at No. 14, Indiana No. 23 and Louisville No. 30.
The second response came from Chris Dortch, publisher of Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, one of the top preseason publications. His response:
“I’d pick Kentucky, mainly because Cal (coach John Calipari) used the portal to fix a problem his teams traditionally have — lack of firepower from behind the arc.
“In (Kellan) Grady and (C.J.) Fredrick, he found two elite 3-point shooters. And getting TyTy Washington to run the point was huge. I’m sure the Cats aren’t finished yet.
“There are still prizes in the portal.”
As for the Cards and Hoosiers?
“Right now both would be in my top 40 but so much can still happen,” Dortch wrote. “Recruiting is a summer long pursuit.”
The Wildcats added the strongest group of incoming recruits from the high school and junior-college worlds. With the addition of Washington, the five-star point guard, Calipari’s class ranks No. 7 at 247Sports.
That is 11 places ahead of Louisville’s class and 29 ahead of Indiana’s two-player class.
But fixing your team with high school guys is so 2020. Free agency has arrived in college basketball. U of L, UK and IU have all added at least three players with college experience.
Again, I’d give the advantage to Calipari and the Wildcats in the veteran transfer market.
Fredrick will arrive from Iowa as a 47% shooter from distance. Grady is a 36% shooter from distance who scored more than 2,000 points and 20 or more in nine games for Davidson.
Oscar Tshiebwe is a ferocious rebounder who grabbed more than 20% of the offensive and defensive rebounds when he was on the floor at West Virginia.
Blend the six newcomers with the five guys likely to return and I’d rank Kentucky in the 15-20 range.
Here is the latest on the rosters:
- GONE: David Johnson, guard; Carlik Jones, guard (top two scorers); Josh Nickelberry, guard; forward Slazinski, forward Charles Minlend and center Aidan Igiehon.
- BACK: Samuell Williamson, forward; Malik Williams, center/forward; Jae'Lyn Withers, forward/center; Dre Davis, wing; JJ Traynor, wing and center Gabe Wiznitzer.
- NEW: Matt Cross, forward, transfer from Miami; Jarrod West, guard, transfer from Marshall; Locke, guard, transfer from Florida; El Ellis, all-American junior-college point guard; Michael James, high school forward, ranked No. 70 by 247Sports; Roosevelt Wheeler, high school center, ranked No. 78.
- GONE: BJ Boston, forward; Olivier Sarr, center; Isaiah Jackson, forward; Terrence Clarke, forward; Askew, guard; Cam’Ron Fletcher, forward.
- UNDECIDED: Davion Mintz, guard.
- BACK: Jacob Toppin, forward; Keion Brooks, forward; Dontaie Allen, guard, Lance Ware, center.
- NEW: TyTy Washington, guard, No 21; Damion Collins, forward, No. 10; Bryce Hopkins, forward, No. 30; Fredrick, guard transfer from Iowa; Grady, wing transfer from Davidson; Tshiebwe, forward transfer from West Virginia
- GONE: Armaan Franklin, guard; Joey Brunk, center; Al Durham, guard; Hunter, forward.
- BACK: Trayce Jackson-Davis, forward; Race Thompson, center/forward; Rob Phinisee, guard; Jordan Geronimo, forward; Khristian Lander, guard; Trey Galloway, wing; Anthony Leal, guard.
- NEW: Xavier Johnson, guard, transfer from Pitt; Parker Stewart, guard, transfer from Tennessee-Martin; Miller Kopp, forward, transfer from Northwestern; Bates, prep guard, ranked No. 33; Logan Duncomb, prep center, ranked No. 73.
Several AP Top 25 voters responded.
“At this stage, the only team from those three I’d consider in my Top 25 is Kentucky …” wrote Chris Murray, an AP voter from Reno, Nevada.
“… even if I did put the Wildcats in my preseason Top 25, it’d be near the back of the pack. Louisville would be second in front of Indiana. None of those three blue-chip programs enter the year with realistic national championship-caliber rosters.
“But they each have promising talent, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re Top 25 teams at some point, even if they don’t start out in the national rankings to begin the season.”
“Out of the three, I’m going with Kentucky,” wrote Ethan Joyce, an AP voter from the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal.
“Indiana going through a coaching change gives me pause, especially considering Mike Woodson is a first-time college coach (feels weird to type that about a 25-year coaching vet) …
“… Louisville trailing off the way they did at the end of the season, then losing their top two scorers (and a certified bad man in Carlik Jones, who I loved to watch) also puts me in wait-and-see mode.”
And, which of the three has done the best job reshaping its roster?
“I’d lean Kentucky here, too, mainly because of Kellan Grady,” Joyce wrote.
“The guy is a stud, and he (as well as CJ Fredrick) brings that much-needed shooting that the Wildcats desperately needed last season.
“Grady was going to be a killer addition for any program, and Kentucky will be better for it. Another top-10 recruiting class helps too. Talk about a whirlwind the transfer portal had created: Oscar Tshiebwe coming over from West Virginia seems like ages ago.”
"I won't rank IU or Louisville to start. IU brings a lot back... but IU brings a lot back," wrote Paul Klee, columnist for the Denver Gazette.
"Can Louisville shoot now? If Louisville can shoot now, I'll give them a look down the road.
"Kentucky is somewhere in Nos. 20-25 because TyTy Washington is awesome. Might buy his jersey. Or just watch every one of his games. He's SEC Co-FOY with the Tennessee kid.
"It's tough for me to envision a scenario where any of the three compete with the Gonzaga, UCLA, Nova, Baylor tier."
Editing note -- several more writers shared their thoughts after I posted the story Thursday afternoon.
for the work both programs have done this offseason. Indiana has done well
to try and avoid a rebuild after a coaching change — I like the moves Mike
Woodson has made and the guys he talked into coming back — but Kentucky
has done the most, in my opinion, to reshape its roster.
"The Wildcats needed to after last year's disaster of a season. Most
notably, Kentucky addressed a major weakness via the transfer portal in
adding shooters in Kellan Grady and CJ Fredrick, raided Illinois' coaching
staff of two top recruiters. Landing a point guard like TyTy Washington
was just the cherry on top."