When it comes to constructing his roster, Kentucky coach John Calipari made some last-minute additions that were neither intentional nor left to chance. However, this approach is becoming increasingly common among college basketball coaches.
This strategy allows Calipari to introduce a new style for the Wildcats that closely resembles the one employed by the University of Connecticut on their way to winning the national championship last season.
Get ready for the Three-Cats.
Last season, UK ranked near the bottom of all NCAA Division I men’s basketball schools and was almost dead last among major conference schools in terms of their percentage of 3-point attempts.
Only 30% of Kentucky’s field goals attempted were from 3-point range, according to Kenpom.com, which ranked the Wildcats 330th. In contrast, UConn, the reigning champion, had nearly 42% of their shot attempts coming from behind the arc.
When the Cats hold their Blue-White scrimmage on Saturday at Northern Kentucky, as part of an event to raise funds for flood and tornado relief in the state, their shot selection will resemble that of the Huskies.
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However, this does not mean that UK can automatically secure a spot in the Final Four in Phoenix. UConn had a much more experienced roster, with only two freshmen among their top 10 players. On the other hand, the Cats have a class of eight freshmen, six of whom are expected to play significant minutes, and they will face numerous challenges as a result.
Nevertheless, UK’s roster resembles that of the 2022-23 Huskies in terms of the number of shooters that Calipari has accumulated.
Interestingly, three of these players were not finalized on the roster until after early June.
Senior guard Antonio Reeves, who topped the team in both made 3-pointers (80) and 3-point percentage (39.8) last season, decided to withdraw from the NBA draft after receiving reassurances that he would not be overshadowed by the highly touted freshmen.
Graduate forward Tre Mitchell, a 6-foot-9 stretch-4, entered the transfer portal only after West Virginia coach Bob Huggins resigned suddenly following his arrest for drunken driving.
Zvonimir Ivisic, a 7-foot-2 Croatian who committed in August, had to navigate the hurdles of being an international student and was not officially admitted and cleared to play until this month.
All three players contribute to UK’s ability to spread the floor and create drive and kick opportunities for 3-point shots. With the addition of freshmen Reed Sheppard, Justin Edwards, and D.J. Wagner, Kentucky can field a lineup where every player poses a threat from beyond the arc.
Laura Davis covers the world of basketball with precision. Her articles explore NBA and college basketball, offering game analysis, player profiles, and highlights. Laura’s passion for hoops is evident in her comprehensive basketball coverage.