LEXINGTON — Kentucky is the early favorite to win the Southeastern Conference title.
The Wildcats were chosen to finish ahead of Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and Auburn in a preseason poll released by the league, voted upon my league and national media representatives.
Sahvir Wheeler was a first-team selection, while Vanderbilt guard Scotty Pippen Jr. was the preseason favorite to win Player of the Year honors. The Wildcats had four players — Keion Brooks, Kellan Grady and Oscar Tshiebwe — on the second team.
“We have the pieces,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “How we fit them together, that's going to happen over the season. My guess is we'll start slow like we always do. The schedule is not like it was last year where you have some games and you're going to learn and grow and do some things.”
Alabama won the league title last year, while Arkansas was second, followed by Arkansas, LSU, Tennessee and Florida.
Kentucky opens the season ranked No. 10 in the Associated Press Top 25. Gonzaga is No. 1, followed by UCLA, Kansas, Villanova, Texas, Michigan, Purdue, Baylor, Duke and Kentucky. Alabama is No. 14, while Arkansas opens the season ranked 16th, Tennessee 18th and Auburn is ranked No. 22.
Tops in NBA
When the NBA tipped off its regular season on Tuesday night, 27 former Kentucky players were on opening-day rosters. Only Duke (29) has more players on active NBA rosters this season.
Four former Wildcats — Kevin Knox, Nerlens Noel, Immanual Quickley and Julius Randle — opened the season with the New York Knicks, while Anthony Davis, Malik Monk and Rajon Rondo will play for the Los Angeles Lakers this season. The Lakers are coached by former student manager and video coordinator Frank Vogel.
Former Wildcats in the NBA are as follows: Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Eric Bledsoe (Los Angeles Clippers), Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), Brandon Boston Jr. (Los Angeles Clippers), Willie Cauley-Stein (Dallas Mavericks), Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers), Hamidou Diallo (Detroit Pistons), De’Aaron Fox (Sacramento Kings), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City Thunder), Tyler Herro (Miami Heat), Isaiah Jackson (Indiana Pacers), Keldon Johnson (San Antonio Spurs), Enes Kanter (Boston Celtics), Kevin Knox (New York Knicks), Trey Lyles (Detroit Pistons), Tyrese Maxey (Philadelphia 76ers), Malik Monk (Los Angeles Lakers), Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets), Nerlens Noel (New York Knicks), Immanuel Quickley (New York Knicks), Julius Randle (New York Knicks), Nick Richards (Charlotte Hornets), Rajon Rondo (Los Angeles Lakers), Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves), Jarred Vanderbilt (Minnesota Timberwolves), John Wall (Houston Rockets) and PJ Washington (Charlotte Hornets).
The Kentucky women’s basketball team opens the season ranked No. 13 going into Kyra Elzy’s second season at the helm.