The Kentucky Wildcats enter the 2023-24 season ranked #16 in the AP poll. Their starting lineup is as follows:
Kentucky Basketball Starting 5
- PG–D.J. Wagner
- SG- Robert Dillingham
- SF- Antonio Reeves
- PF- Justin Edwards
- C- Tre Mitchell
Per usual, Kentucky will start several freshmen throughout the season, with seniors Antonio Reeves and Tre Mitchell being the primary upperclassmen to join this unit.
Kentucky Position Groups
Kentucky has the “good problem” of having multiple directions it can go with its starting lineup. If the Wildcats want to go “small,” they can roll out a lineup that features D.J. Wagner, Robert Dillingham, Antonio Reeves, Tre Mitchell, and Justin Edwards; however, Adou Thiero could take the place of Dillingham or Wagner if head coach Calipari opts for a larger lineup. Further, five-star freshman Aaron Bradshaw should compete with Mitchell for the starting five spot once he returns from injury.
Kentucky Point Guards
Kentucky’s point guard spot should come down to either Robert Dillingham or D.J. Wagner, two five-star freshmen who are expected to be high-impact players for the Wildcats from Day 1. Wagner is more of a traditional point guard, looking to facilitate and distribute a bit more, while Dillingham usually seeks out his shot first, as he is an uber-talented self-creator with the ball.
Kentucky Shooting Guards
Depending on Calipari’s ideal size for this starting unit, either Robert Dillingham or Antonio Reeves will take on the starting shooting guard position for Kentucky. Based on our projection, Dillingham will probably be the starting shooting guard, with freshman sniper Reed Sheppard set to come off the bench to provide shooting and backcourt depth for this team. Reeves could also see minutes at the two if Coach Cal decides he wants to start Adou Thiero at small forward or if the ideal rotations simply call for him to play some there.
Kentucky Small Forwards
We project Antonio Reeves to play the small forward in a “small ball” starting lineup for the Wildcats. While this could fluctuate throughout the season, depending on how Wagner and Dillingham perform, Reeves is as close to a “lock” at starting for the Wildcats as any player on this roster. If Reeves is deployed at the two instead of Dillingham, we can expect Adou Thiero to start at small forward.
Kentucky Power Forwards
Justin Edwards should be the de facto starting power forward for the Kentucky Wildcats this season. The No. 3 ranked player in ESPN’s Top 100 enters his freshman season with sky-high expectations, and he should have no problem delivering due to his fantastic size (6-foot-8), defensive versatility, athleticism, finishing ability, and smooth stroke off of catch-and-shoot opportunities. Once Ugonna Onyenso is healthy, he will also see some minutes in the power forward position.
Kentucky’s center position will be a battle between Tre Mitchell, the West Virginia transfer who posted roughly 12 points and six rebounds for the Mountaineers last season, and five-star freshman Aaron Bradshaw. Bradshaw is unlikely to start at the beginning of the season due to a foot injury that has left him sidelined throughout preseason; however, he is talented enough to give Mitchell a run at the starting five spot later in the year.
Kentucky Full Roster
Kentucky Starting Five FAQ
- Who Is Kentucky’s Head Coach?
- Who Is Kentucky’s Starting Point Guard?
- Who Is Kentucky’s Best Player?
Who Is Kentucky’s Head Coach?
Kentucky’s head coach is John Calipari, a highly decorated coach with six Final Four appearances, two of which have since been vacated by the NCAA due to violations, and one National Championship in 2012.
Who Is Kentucky’s Starting Point Guard?
Kentucky’s starting point guard will either be D.J. Wagner or Robert Dillingham, both of whom are five-star freshmen guards with the ability to run this Wildcats squad. Dillingham is more of a score-first guard, while Wagner can do some of everything at the point.
Who Is Kentucky’s Best Player?
Kentucky’s best player will likely be Antonio Reeves, a super senior guard who averaged just shy of 15 points per game last season for the Wildcats. Reeves shot roughly 42% from the field and 40% from three and should improve on those numbers this season.