By The Associated Press=
Last season: 32-6, reached NCAA Tournament South Region final.
Coach: John Calipari.
Who’s gone: G De’Aaron Fox, G Malik Monk, F Bam Adebayo (all NBA lottery picks); G Isaiah Briscoe, F Derek Willis, G Dominique Hawkins, G Mychal Mulder, F Isaac Humphries.
Who’s back: F Wenyen Gabriel. The 6-foot-9 sophomore started 23 of 38 games before his minutes dwindled in the postseason but returns as the Wildcats’ top scorer (4.6 points) and rebounder (4.8); Fs Sacha Killeya-Jones and Tai Wynyard, both 6-10, look for bigger roles this season.
Who’s new: G Hamidou Diallo. The mid-year enrollee who dressed but didn’t play flirted with entering the NBA Draft before deciding to return and get actual minutes. Calipari offset some of the departures with his usual crop of high school All-Americans: G Quade Green (6-0) and Fs Jarred Vanderbilt (6-9), Nick Richards (6-11), Kevin Knox (6-9) and P.J. Washington (6-7). Gs Jemarl Baker and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander were top-100 players as well.
The Skinny: The Wildcats’ latest roster turnover has left Calipari with perhaps his youngest group since arriving in Lexington eight years ago. With no veteran upperclassmen, Gabriel, Wynyard and Killeya-Jones must provide leadership while competing with the newcomers for minutes. Calipari’s immediate task is finding a floor general like John Wall and Tyler Ulis, but his history has shown things often work out. Having so much high-level talent is a problem any coach would love to have, though Calipari warns it might be ugly early on.
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