Kentucky Basketball: Wildcats check in at No. 11 in Coaches Poll; All-SEC team

Kentucky guard Kellan Grady (Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky guard Kellan Grady (Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports) /

As the October calendar is about to flip to November that means college basketball is ready to tip it up in just 12 days with that the Coaches Poll has popped up and Kentucky basketball checks in at No. 11.

Not really a huge surprise and just a starting spot for the Wildcats. After last year’s disappointing season this is a far cry from the ending to 2020-21.

We all know John Calipari has reloaded this year, retooled his game plans as well as his approach in philosophy by mixing a roster chalked with five returning players, four transfers, and three star-studded newcomers.

Is this the perfect recipe, we are about to find out.

Kentucky basketball set for a powerhouse schedule that begins with Duke

The AP Preseason poll came out last week and it’s pretty much the same thinking with a few teams sliding up or down a spot or two. Kentucky basketball ranks No. 10 by the AP writers.

Gonzaga opens as the preseason No. 1 team followed by UCLA, Kansas, Villanova, and Texas in the top five. Michigan, Purdue, Baylor, Duke, and Illinois round out the top 10.

The UK has kicked off the season ranked in the top 11 for 13 straight seasons under Cal.

Kentucky is preparing to take on seven teams who start the year ranked in the AP Top 25, and six from the coaches voting as Notre Dame is just outside the Top 25. Powerhouse teams Kansas (3), Duke (9), and Ohio State (17) matchup with Cats on neutral sites.

The season begins with the Champions Classic on November 9 with Kansas and Michigan State squaring off at 7 pm. and Kentucky and Duke hitting the court 30 minutes after that game concludes.

No doubt it will be worth staying up late to watch could be the final Calipari vs Mike Krzyzewski faceoff as Coach K is retiring at the end of the season.

Three other Southeastern Conference schools made the list including Alabama (13), Tennessee (17), and Auburn (22).  One other team LSU also picked up some votes. Kentucky has home and home games with Alabama and Tennessee and will play at Auburn.

Members of the media who cover the SEC also voted Kentucky basketball to win its 50th SEC title this season.

 Wheeler, Brooks, Grady, Tshiebwe were named to preseason award lists 

The preseason coaches’ All-SEC squads were unveiled and the Kentucky basketball honorees mirrored those made by the media.

Junior guard Sahvir Wheeler transferred to Kentucky from Georgia. He is also on the preseason Bob Cousy Award watch list.

Other Cats singled out on both the AP and Coaches lists on the All-SEC second-team list are graduate student guard Kellan Grady and junior forwards Keion Brooks Jr. and Oscar Tshiebwe.

Grady, a graduate transfer from Davidson where he scored over 2,000 points was also picked to the preseason watch list for the Jerry West Award.

Tshiebwe transferred at the Christmas break from West Virginia is among the early-season candidates for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar award. He is going to be a huge inside presence for Kentucky this season.

We got a glimpse of the team last week in the Blue-White game, but this week it’s against a true opposing team. Big Blue hosts an exhibition game against Kentucky Wesleyan on Friday at 7 p.m. that can be seen on the SEC Network.

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