Kernel sports staff predictions for the 2018-2019 men’s basketball season


Graduate student forward Reid Travis hangs on the rim following a dunk during the game against Indiana University of Pennsylvania on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Kernel Sports Staff

With another UK men’s basketball season upon us, the Kernel sports desk sat down and gave their thoughts on how the season will play out.

What will UK’s record be at the end of the season?

Chris Leach (Features Editor): 24-7. I think last year showed that no one is guaranteed a win on any given night in SEC basketball, and while Kentucky has improved since last year, so has the rest of the league.

Chase Campbell (Assistant Sports Editor): 26-5. The Cats have recently struggled against Kansas (UK last beat them in an early-season beatdown with the near-invincible 2014-15 team), and the SEC is incredibly tough. This team is better than most, but so is their schedule.

Erika Bonner (Sports Editor): I’ll go in between Chris and Chase and say 25-6. This team is definitely much better than last year’s and will win more games, but the SEC is really tough this year.

By the time UK faces Louisville (Dec. 29) who will be the regular starters?

CL: Immanuel Quickley, Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, P.J. Washington and Reid Travis. At some point, it’s going to be hard to keep Travis and Herro off the court, and I like the veteran duo of Quade Green and Nick Richards leading the second unit.

CC: Immanuel Quickley, Quade Green, Keldon Johnson, P.J. Washington and Nick Richards. The electricity and brutality that Herro and Travis will bring off the bench will be hard to ignore, as Hagans and Travis anchor stops and Herro lights the floor up against inferior second units.

EB: Herro, Travis, Washington, Johnson and Quickley. As impressive as that starting lineup is, what’s just as impressive is the guys ready to come in off the bench— Hagans, Green, Richards and Montgomery.

Who will be the season MVP for the Cats?

CL: Reid Travis. The preseason All-SEC First-Teamer provides the Wildcats with experience and leadership that they could’ve desperately used last year. Also, he’s pretty darn good at basketball, too, and he should be able to hang with Grant Williams, Daniel Gafford and other great SEC big-men.

CC: P.J. Washington. Calipari’s comparison of Washington to Draymond Green last year wasn’t that far off. Washington is tough, and his ball skills have improved by leaps and bounds since last year. If he pulls big defenders away from the basket, look out.

EB: Reid Travis. I’m really excited to see what kind of an impact he makes on this team, and I think it’ll be a very big one. Between his age, maturity, leadership and talent, he’ll play a huge role and will be that extra factor the Cats will need.

Which players will lead the team in points/rebounds/assists?

CL: Tyler Herro will lead the team in points, Immanuel Quickley in assists and Reid Travis in rebounds. Quickley led the Wildcats in assists during the four-game Bahamas trip, and the starting point guard role gives him the best opportunity to have the most assists.

CC: It’s hard to think Tyler Herro won’t lead the team in points, even coming off the bench. He’ll be a lightning rod. Quade Green, while being off the ball, will lead the team in assists because of his heavy minutes. Reid Travis will lead in rebounds as he dominates already tired starters or weaker second units.

EB: With Tyler Herro being the lights-out shooter that he is, I don’t think I can pick anyone but him to lead the team in points. Reid Travis will lead the team in rebounds, and since I have him starting over Quade, Quickley leads in assists.

How many Cats get selected in next year’s NBA Draft? Who goes first?

CL: Five: Johnson, Washington, Herro, Travis and Quickley all get picked, with Johnson coming off the board first. His ability to defend, share the ball and score give him the best chances of success for the NBA. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Richards or Green go pro but not get picked.

CC: Johnson, Washington, Richards, Herro and Travis all get picked up in the draft next year. Washington goes first because teams want to copy the Golden State Warriors design, and a Draymond Green-type player is a great way to do that.

EB: I’m going with Herro, Washington, Johnson and Quickley for sure. Possibly Richards as well, and even though the guy has improved tremendously since last year, it really depends on how much he improves and how effective he is this season.