LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky is slated to take on Ohio State in this year’s CBS Sports Classic on Dec. 18 at a site to be determined. UK and the Buckeyes will play following the conclusion of the UCLA-North Carolina game, which is slated for 3 p.m. ET.
Kentucky was originally slated to take on North Carolina this season, but due to COVID-19 testing protocols, the teams met last season. The Wildcats will instead take on the Buckeyes in this year’s edition of the annual event.
This will mark the eighth straight season of the CBS Sports Classic. UNC owns a 5-2 record in the event. Ohio State is 4-3, Kentucky is 3-4 and UCLA is 2-5. All four teams appear in various top-25 preseason polls leading into the 2021-22 season.
The Buckeyes are coming off a 21-10 season with Chris Holtmann in his fifth season as head coach. Ohio State will return six of its top eight scorers from a team that earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament a season ago.
The CBS Sports Classic annually brings together four of the nation’s most successful college basketball programs. The quartet owns a combined 26 national championships, with UCLA (11), Kentucky (eight) and North Carolina (six) ranking first, second and third, respectively, in NCAA history. Additionally, all four programs rank in the top six in all time Final Four berths, compiling 65 total appearances between them (North Carolina, 20; UCLA, 18; Kentucky, 17; Ohio State, 10).
Fans interested in attending the 2021 CBS Sports Classic can register to receive direct email alerts regarding ticket availability by logging on to cbssportsclassic.com/tickets. Fans who register for these ticket alerts will be eligible for exclusive presale access. Ticket information will be announced at a later date.
In addition to taking on Ohio State in the CBS Sports Classic, UK has already announced nonconference matchups vs. Duke on Nov. 9 in the Champions Classic in New York, a road game at Michigan on Dec. 4, a meeting against Notre Dame on Dec. 11 and a matchup at Kansas on Jan. 29 as a part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
Additional nonconference matchups and the full slate of SEC games will be announced at a later date.
Kentucky will meet what is expected to be another demanding test head on with what looks to be a solid blend of talent and experience.
The Wildcats welcome back sixth-year graduate student Davion Mintz (11.5 points per game and 56 3-pointers), junior forwards Keion Brooks Jr.(10.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in 2020-21) and Jacob Toppin (5.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game), sophomore guard Dontaie Allen (31 3-pointers and 5.4 points per game), and sophomore forward Lance Ware (2.0 points, 3.0 rebounds in 2018-19).
UK will also gain additional experience with four transfers in forward Oscar Tshiebwe and guards CJ Fredrick, Kellan Grady and Sahvir Wheeler. Combined the four have appeared in 266 collegiate games. Tshiebwe spent the spring semester with the Wildcats and is a former All-Big 12 performer from West Virginia who has 12 career double-doubles. Fredrick, from Iowa, is an All-Big Ten performer who owns a career 46.6% percentage from long range. Grady is a four-time All-Atlantic 10 player who suited up for Davidson and has more than 2,000 career points and a career average of 17.4 points per game. Wheeler is an All-SEC player who led the league in assists per game (7.4) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7) at Georgia as a sophomore.
The Wildcats will add three consensus four- or five-star prospects in Daimion Collins, Bryce Hopkins and TyTy Washington. Collins is ranked as high as the No. 10 overall player in the class and averaged 35.2 points, 14.4 rebounds. 7.0 assists and 6.2 blocks per game and was named the Texas Gatorade Player of the Year. Hopkins averaged 24.4 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.5 blocks per game as a senior and is a top-25 prospect. He was the MaxPreps Illinois High School Player of the Year. Washington averaged 24.0 points, 7.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game this past season to lead Compass Prep to a 30-2 record. He connected on 48% of his shots and 41% from 3-point range and is ranked as high as the No. 12 overall player in the class.
UK’s 2021-22 roster currently features a sixth-year graduate, a fifth-year graduate, a redshirt junior, six juniors, a redshirt sophomore, two sophomores and three freshmen.
Production wise, it will also be among the most prolific returning teams of the Calipari era. Kentucky will return 42.1% of its minutes, 41.9% of its scoring, 39.0% of the rebounds, 42.4% of the assists and 60.6% of the 3-pointers from a season ago.
For comparison, the only two Calipari-coached Kentucky teams that returned more minutes and more points (in terms of percentages) than the 2021-22 team is slated to return were the 2011-12 national championship squad and the 2014-15 Final Four team that started the season 38-0.
Adding the Wildcats’ four transfers to the equation, Kentucky’s current 2021-22 roster includes 13,385 minutes, 5,203 points, 1,917 rebounds, 1,132 assists and 543 total 3-pointers in college basketball production.