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According to One Analyst, Kentucky Basketball Has Two Preseason Top-25 Defenders and a Top-5 Shooter

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Basketball is becoming more and more offense-oriented, and at the end of the day, the team that wins is the one with the most points. However, that should not negate the importance of defense.

For example, the two teams in the NBA Finals – the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors – were the two best defensive teams in the league.

While there are teams in college basketball, like Alabama, shooting thirty threes per game (29.9 3PA in 2022) and playing little to no defense (92nd in KenPom Defense) in an effort to outshoot and outscore their opponent, that is not the case for John Calipari and Kentucky.

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In Calipari’s thirteen seasons as the head coach at Kentucky, the Wildcats have only been ranked outside of the KenPom top-50 in defense twice, and have been ranked inside the top-25 seven times.

This season looks to be no different, returning one of the interior players in college basketball history, Oscar Tshiebwe, and bringing in a freshman known for his defense, Cason Wallace.

The two have been selected to CBKReport’s preseason top 25 and I would expect them to be listed on more lists to become, including preseason defensive award watchlists.

On the offensive side of the ball, Kentucky does have legitimate questions in regards to shooting depth, with CJ Fredrick and Antonio Reeves being the only proven shooters.

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However, CBKReport his name Fredrick as a top-5 shooter, and with a career 46.6 three-point percentage in the Big Ten, it is easy to see why.

What do you guys think? Should any other Wildcats be on these lists? Any players too high or too low?

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BB Recruiting

No. 1 Point Guard Robert Dillingham Chooses Kentucky

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UK Athletics

The Kentucky Wildcats just added a significant piece to their 2023 recruiting class, No. 1 point guard Robert Dillingham, choosing Kentucky over Auburn, Louisville, and USC.

Back in December, Dillingham had originally elected to stay home and committed to NC State. This came as a last-minute surprise, as Dillingham held seven 247 Sports Crystal Ball predictions to Kentucky just 48 hours prior to his decision.

However, Dillingham decommitted from NC State back in March after the school received NCAA violations. Upon reopening his recruitment, UK assistant coach Chin Coleman told Dillingham, “I’m not gonna lose this time,” and he held true to his word.

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In Dillingham, Kentucky is getting an extremely talented player that many have started to compare to long-time No. 1 recruit DJ Wagner, who Dillingham has even expressed interest in playing alongside.

Despite his small 6-foot-1, 165-pound frame, Dillingham is the perfect modern point guard, possessing elite speed, finishing ability, ball-handling skills, and perimeter shooting. Collectively, these attributes make Dillingham the dangerous offensive weapon that he is and gives him the confidence to score at all three levels.

With that said, Dillingham does not rely on his scoring ability to make an impact, as he is also willing to make the extra pass and put his teammates in positions to succeed.

In addition to his electric style of play, Dillingham possesses an alpha mentality and toughness. However, Dillingham does need to build on his frame and improve on the defensive end, as he can lose focus at times.

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Dillingham joins Reed Sheppard to give the Kentucky two 5-star recruits and moves the Wildcats’ recruiting class into third place in the 247 Sports rankings, behind Duke and North Carolina.

If you are unfamiliar with Dillingham and his playstyle, watch this breakdown and get up to speed on the most recent Wildcat commit.

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Men's Basketball

Former Kentucky Strength Coach Turns Heel and Says “Go Cards”

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UK Athletics

Back in late April, it was announced that the men’s Kentucky basketball program and former strength coach Rob Harris had parted ways.

Harris had been with the program for eight seasons and while no reason was ever officially given for his departure, it can be attributed to a combination of recent lower-body injuries, receiving a technical foul for a scuffle at Tennessee back in February, and a public video of him having an outburst at his daughter’s basketball game.

While Harris is looking for a new position, Louisville is looking for a new strength and conditioning coach. Could the two join forces against a common enemy, being Kentucky?

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It certainly looks like Harris would be on board. On Wednesday afternoon, Harris made a heel move and tweeted his support of Kenny Payne and the Louisville Cardinals.

If Harris does join the staff, it will be another another piece to reviatlize the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry.

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BB Recruiting

Kentucky Expressing Interest in 2024 Top 100 In-State Recruit, Travis Perry

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In the 2023 class, John Calipari has already secured a commitment from Reed Sheppard, the best prospect in the state of Kentucky and ranked top-25 nationally.

Looking ahead to the 2024 class, Calipari is already showing interest in Lyon County’s Travis Perry, who is ranked as a top-two prospect in the state and ranked in the top 100 nationally.

This past weekend, Calipari was in attendance for the Titans-Rockets Classic to see Xavier Booker – who has made an astronomical jump in the latest recruiting rankings – and was also given the opportunity to watch Perry.

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The Lyon County product must have left a lasting impression as Travis’s father, Ryan Perry, says that Calipari has been in contact “quite a bit” this week. On top of that, Travis and his parents – who are Kentucky graduates and admitted Wildcat fans – are planning a visit to Kentucky this weekend to talk with Calipari and tour the campus.

To those who follow Kentucky high school basketball Perry’s name is very recognizable. Playing varsity since his seventh-grade year – averaging 20.6 points per game that season – Perry has scored 3,189 career points and is well on his way to breaking the state record of 4,337 points, held by “King” Kelly Coleman.

What is Perry’s motivation? “I’m just trying to get one more point than the other team, because I gotta ride home with my dad. And that’s the coach, and I don’t want to have to listen to him complain the whole way,” Perry told Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader.

Perry currently holds offers from Creighton, Ole Miss, Iowa, and Purdue among others but expect his recruitment to continue heating up. Since last weekend’s event, Juwan Howard and Michigan have also expressed interest.

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Check out Perry’s highlights as he went head-to-head with Sheppard and North Laurel in last summer’s Titans-Rockets Classic.

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