2023-24 Kentucky basketball roster preview – guards

Kentucky Wildcats guard Antonio Reeves (12) talks with head coach John Calipari ( Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky Wildcats guard Antonio Reeves (12) talks with head coach John Calipari ( Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports) /

Turning the page from September to October brings a fresh outlook to the Central Kentucky region.

You know when the Fall season officially arrives with the crisp, cool air in the mornings and the leaves showing their vast array of colors on the trees. Plans flood the calendar to attend the horse race tracks, bourbon distilleries, high school football, car shows, Oktoberfest activities, and Trick ‘r Treating. While all these activities bring excitement across the Commonwealth, nothing can match the expectations of the upcoming Kentucky basketball team.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we will preview the 2023-24 Kentucky basketball roster by position groups.

Guards (8)

Antonio Reeves:

  • Graduate senior
  • Key 2022-23 stats: 14.4 PPG on 39.8% 3-point shooting

The reigning 2022-23 SEC 6th Man of the Year took extra time to test the draft process and even explore the transfer portal. In the end, Reeves made the commitment to return to the Wildcats to join up with a fierce recruiting class and other seasoned veterans.

Reeves is crucial to the success of the guards and the overall team. He has two key areas that make him vital to this team: undeniable, potent shooting acumen and veteran leadership.

Although fans will remember his unfortunate cold shooting performance against Kansas State in the NCAA Tournament game, his season-long consistency is hope for what we can expect from Reeves.

DJ Wagner:

  • #6 Recruit (247Sports Composite)

All signs point to Wagner as the lead guard and primary ball handler for Kentucky basketball. This will be coach Calipari’s first true combo guard at the point guard spot since De’Aaron Fox in 2016.

From his time at Camden to his role on the EYBL circuit, Wagner is a high-energy athlete who forces pressure on both ends of the ball and is a proven winner. Wagner’s recruitment process was a fun ride but now that he is wearing the blue and white, he is expected to make an immediate impact.

Rob Dillingham:

  • #16 Recruit (247Sports Composite)

Dillingham is arguably the most polarizing player in the heralded recruiting class. Depending on your vantage point, he can either be the flashy, shifty, scoring guard his high school highlights indicate, or he is the dribble-happy, undersized, streaky shooter that scares the coaching staff.

Regardless, Dillingham needs to shrink the “feast or famine” label that is currently attached. His razzle-dazzle playing style relates to the younger, video game generation but brings tension and frustration from the season ticket holders. If Dillingham is going to elevate his game and remain a key piece of the team, he will need to improve his off-ball awareness, become elite in shot creation, and fight on defense to avoid opposing teams hunting him for the mismatch.

Reed Shepherd:

  • #43 Recruit (247Sports Composite)

The buzz surrounding Reed’s expectations in a Kentucky uniform, justified or not, is already approaching the ceiling. Shepherd is a legacy player from the family of two former UK athletes,  Jeff & Stacy Shepherd.

Kentuckians around the high school basketball scene have had their chance to watch Shepherd develop into a superstar over the course of his high school career. On the Adidas 3-Stripe circuit, he flashed with scoring barrages, athletic finishes, and crafty defense. Although Shepherd’s role in the team is yet to be ironed out, expect his poise, confidence, and high-IQ playmaking abilities to shine.

Joey Hart:

  • #199 Recruit (247Sports Composite)

After de-committing from UCF, Hart landed in Lexington a few days following an official visit in the early summer period. Much is still to be determined with Hart. We know from his recruiting profile that he is an elite leaper with a polished scoring skillset.

We see Hart as a developmental player who should incrementally improve from the weight training, intense practice sessions, and overall lifestyle that comes with being a basketball player on campus.

Other notables:

Kareem Watkins, senior

Walker Horn, sophomore

Grant Darbyshire, sophomore