Predictions early on put UK near top of college hoops | Local Sports

Nothing on a hot day in August can get yourself going like the abundance of these pesky way-too-early college basketball rankings.

Of course, if you’re a University of Kentucky basketball fan, it’s perfectly fine, since the Wildcats are in the top three of almost any August ranking you’d want to mention.

For UK, looking at the season ahead dovetails neatly into who the Wildcats are bringing in for the 2020 recruiting class.

Remember, folks, the 2019-20 basketball season doesn’t tip off until UK takes on Michigan State, a near-consensus No. 1 team in these way-too-early prognostications. That will come on Nov. 5 in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden. That’s the first night of the college basketball season.

NBC Sports, which has Michigan State and Kentucky 1-2 in its rankings, had a projected experienced starting lineup for Michigan State with Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford, Kyle Ahrens, Aaron Henry and Xavier Tillman — three seniors, one junior and one sophomore.

Young Kentucky squads have sometimes not fared well in early-season matchups with experienced teams that have a high energy level.

With colleges around the country getting ready to greet students for another school year, UK finally closed its roster up with the news that five-star recruit N’Faly Dante will go to Oregon.

Dante was a top-level big man who reclassified to the 2019 class and would’ve really added starch to UK’s lineup. Even without Dante, most national college basketball observers think Kentucky is a Final Four team.

ESPN has UK at No. 3, ahead of Florida and Louisville.

NBC Sports has UK at No. 2, and its projected starting five for the Wildcats features Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey, Kahlil Whitney, Keion Brooks and EJ Montgomery. That is only one look John Calipari could use with this lineup.

Athlon Sports, a highly-respected preseason publication, likes the Wildcats so much it had them No. 1 in its 2019-20 rankings back in June. Athlon liked the experience of Montgomery, Hagans, Nick Richards, Immanuel Quickley and incoming graduate transfer Nate Sestina. Athlon thinks that combination of experience and the inflow of five-star prospects Keion Brooks, Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney is the right thing to lift UK to the Final Four.

So, the dreaming for BBN can go in full swing until the season hype picks up in October (or before).

Yeah, next season looks great for the Wildcats. Calipari and his coaching staff, as usual, are looking beyond, as well.

UK got commitments from two highly-ranked recruits from the 2020 class in a week.

Four-star wing Cam’Ron Fletcher jumped in with the Wildcats a week ago, and the 6-foot-6 prospect from St. Louis joined five-star shooting guard Brandon “BJ” Boston.

No matter what, those two marked big commitments for Calipari and UK.

Boston is the No. 10 overall prospect in rankings. California shooting guard Josh Christopher is the No. 11 player in 2020 rankings and UK could be in good with him, per recruiting tracker Ben Roberts from the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Jalen Green is another California shooting guard who could be the top target on UK’s list now, per Roberts. Green is the nation’s No. 3 overall recruit, according to

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