One of the best defenders in the portal is headed to Arizona. What’s next for Kentucky?
After playing four years for the reigning national runner-up, San Diego State, and playing a key role in the program’s most successful stretch, Keshad Johnson had plenty of suitors when he entered the transfer portal.
After taking visits and sitting down with his family, Johnson made a decision on Saturday, committing to the Arizona Wildcats.
Johnson picked Arizona over the Kentucky Wildcats, Oklahoma Sooners, Texas Tech Red Raiders, and USC Trojans.
Johnson was certainly a player Kentucky wanted, and given the stage of the offseason, it is disappointing they couldn’t get a commitment. Especially so when considering the reaction of Johnson and his mentor to his Kentucky visit.
With that said, Johnson has one year of eligibility remaining, and there is a larger role at Arizona. Kentucky has several elite freshmen coming in, including Justin Edwards and Aaron Bradshaw.
Could this indicate that Chris Livingston could be making a return?
At this moment, that is not likely. It was surprising to see that Livingston opted out of the 5-on-5 scrimmages of the NBA Draft Combine as he is considered to be a borderline draft pick, and NBA scouts have publicly criticized him.
Then again, all it takes is one team. Livingston does have upcoming workouts with NBA teams, and he and his camp are confident that they can find a way to a guaranteed contract, or at minimum, a two-way contract. It should be noted that his agency, LeBron James-owned Klutch Sports, has some pull in the league.
As it stands, it is May 20th, and Kentucky only has seven scholarship players who are expected to contribute. Each program is given 13 scholarships.
Of course, Kentucky awaits the decisions of Livingston, Antonio Reeves, and Oscar Tshiebwe by the May 31st deadline. If all three were to return, Kentucky has a full roster, but that is not likely to happen. Reeves is expected to return – it has been eerily quiet, however, with Livingston and Tshiebwe expected to stay in the draft. That certainly leaves some roles to be filled.
Kentucky’s interest in Keshad Johnson was kept under the radar until they were announced as a finalist. I suspect that UK has some quiet interest in other transfers/potential grad transfers that haven’t become public yet.
While it’s fair to question the strategy, if there is one, I would say hold final judgment. In today’s college landscape, anything can happen, and quickly (i.e. grad transfers, reclassifications).
For reference, Reid Travis, who is considered to be one of Kentucky’s best transfers, announced his transfer on May 30th and committed to Kentucky in mid-June. Just last year, Ugonna Onyenso made the decision to reclassify in mid-July.
John Calipari is entering a make-or-break year at Kentucky. Just like he has done for much of his Hall of Fame career, wants to prove people wrong. At the end of the day, Calipari is responsible for the roster he puts on the floor, and I don’t expect anything less than a Final Four-caliber team.
Only time will tell.