Kentucky Wildcats basketball get praise in way-too-early rankings

Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s never too early to start looking ahead to next season! A few college basketball sites have the Kentucky Wildcats ranked high for the 2023-24 season.

Can’t you just let UConn celebrate for a little while?

Nope, that’s not how it works in sports because, for 300+ Division I teams, the page has officially turned to the next season. For the Kentucky Wildcats, that means another year with high expectations.

We won’t fully know what to expect from this Kentucky team until a few months from now. With the increasingly popular transfer portal and NBA Draft, rosters are far from set. But we do know the Wildcats boast the top-ranked freshman class according to 247Sports. We also have a pretty good idea of the players who might come back, although there is always bound to be a surprise here or there.

While true “way-too-early” top 25 rankings don’t start to hold any legitimate weight until September or October, that doesn’t stop media outlets from putting together lists on April 4.

Because who doesn’t love a good rankings list?

Kentucky Wildcats in different “way-too-early” polls:

  • ESPN: 4th
  • Sports Illustrated: 8th
  • The Athletic: 9th
  • Busting Brackets: 10th
  • USA Today: 11th
  • Fox Sports: 17th
  • 247Sports: Unranked

Holy inconsistency.

That’s expected, considering the sheer guessing game of a way-too-early top 25. When it comes down to it, these are just articles geared to get clicks. They don’t mean a single thing.

But there are still some ridiculous takes.

I think anywhere from 8th to 17th is a fair assessment. So, good job to the writers at SI, The Athletic, FanSided’s Busting Brackets, USA Today, and Fox Sports. Looking ahead to next season, the Kentucky Wildcats will be built on that incredible freshman class, but not much more is set in stone.

DJ Wagner, Kentucky Wildcats recruit
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

If Oscar Tshiebwe comes back, a top-10 ranking seems inevitable. We know how dominant of a player he can be, so playing alongside DJ Wagner, Justin Edwards, Aaron Bradshaw, and Robert Dillingham screams national title contender.

There are other key decisions to note. If Antonio Reeves comes back, it will give UK a reliable scorer if the freshmen class needs more time to adjust to the college game.

However, in the case of Tshiebwe and/or Reeves leaving, the Kentucky Wildcats will be back to square one, relying on freshmen and transfers. That can work out, but it usually takes some time.

With that being said, we shouldn’t overlook or underlook talent. I’m sure all of Big Blue Nation is happy to see ESPN’s way-too-early ranking of No. 4. However, that’s a lot of trust in an, albeit masterclass of a freshman class, to compete right at the top from day one.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, 247Sports’ was borderline disrespectful in not putting the Kentucky Wildcats inside their top 25. While a round of 32 exit doesn’t automatically warrant a top 25 ranking, it isn’t indicative of the incoming class and the potential of returning Reeves and Tshiebwe.

Rankings are fun to debate but shouldn’t be taken too seriously this early in the offseason. Any of these polls could be spot on, or they could all be way off. That’s just the case with college basketball.