3 transfer portal guards Kentucky basketball needs to add to replace Reed and Rob

Kentucky had the best freshman backcourt in the country last year, but freshmen don't win in March anymore. John Calipari's team needs to get older and replace Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham with veteran guards through the transfer portal.

March 22, 2024, Brooklyn, NY, USA;  Florida Atlantic Owls guard Johnell Davis (1) shoots over
March 22, 2024, Brooklyn, NY, USA; Florida Atlantic Owls guard Johnell Davis (1) shoots over / Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
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This season, even without being regulars in the starting lineup, Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham became the most fun Kentucky guard duos since De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. Though, like Fox and Monk, that means Sheppard and Dillingham will be off to the NBA after just one season in Lexington. 

Antonio Reeves is also out of eligibility after an All-American season, so, instead of grooming a new crop of freshmen, John Calipari needs to add at least one of these three transfer portal guards to get instant impact and turn the Cats back into championship contenders. 

The complicated part about Kentucky’s offseason is that it’s unclear who will be back. D.J. Wagner certainly had one-and-done aspirations but was outdone by Reed and Rob, so he’ll likely have to return or hit the portal. Justin Edwards is in a similar spot. 

Adou Thiero has already entered his name into the portal, as well as the NBA Draft, and he’s left the door open to return. So, Kentucky could bring back that group with its size and two-way ability, making shooting the No. 1 priority in the transfer portal, and maybe a bench scorer. However, if any or all of Wagner, Edwards, or Thiero back their bags, Calipari will be forced to add a primary offensive initiator. If not, he’ll be stuck relying on Karter Knox, Boogie Fland, Billy Richmond, or Travis Perry in their freshman year and everyone already saw how that story ends. 

Kentucky has already reached out to several guards in the transfer portal, but these three would vault the team to the top of the SEC and would fit well with the pieces already in place. 

3. . . 6'4" 203 lbs. Johnell Davis, PG/SG. player. 2276. Eligibility Remaining: 1. Johnell Davis. Johnell Davis, PG/SG

When Dusty May took FAU to the Final Four in 2023, Johnell Davis was his top scorer, but not always his primary initiator. Davis relied on Nicholas Boyd and Bryan Greenlee to get the rest of the team involved, while he focused on getting his shot. 

This season, Michael Forrest was FAU’s biggest loss, but even with Boyd and Greenlee back, Davis took on a larger responsibility, upping his scoring average from 13.8 to 18.2 and leading the team with 2.9 assists. That also meant more turnovers and a less efficient offense for FAU. Davis’s 1:1 assist-to-turnover ratio proved he’s a two-guard, not a lead playmaker, but that’s why he’d be a great fit next to D.J. Wagner. 

Davis is a 41.4% three-point shooter who can easily slide into Antonio Reeves’s role as an experienced bucket-getter. Davis has just one year of eligibility left but would buy Calipari time to develop D.J. Wagner because his NBA runway looks like it could be quite long. Kentucky needs a player with Final Four experience who can ease the burden on a roster that despite likely returning more key pieces than expected, is still littered with underclassmen.