Projecting the 2017-18 rotation


It never ceases to amaze me how so many people get a first impression of a player and then assume that player can’t or ever will rise above that level of play, despite the fact that we have seen players improve time and time again.


MAAR and Duncan are guys that we know. Even if they aren’t impressing in a couple summer scrimmages I’m not worried about them. Duncan will shoot 40%+ from 3, MAAR will be an efficient secondary scorer.


You are correct. Not impressed by them means that they are who we all have seen for a few years, very solid players. Although, Wagner will be better than he was last year. From what I’ve heard, his body positioning for defense AND rebounding have gotten better this summer.


Appreciate your insight here; very exciting to hear Ibi is improving. Wondering what role you envision for Ibi this year? Does he back-up Matthews at the 3? Could he play behind MAAR at all at the 2? I know some have wondered if he will get passed up by one of Poole/Brooks.


From the first scrimmage I saw Watson play to the last, there was a huge improvement. I’m not calling for him to break out is a D.J. Wilson type of way, but if Poole wants to play he bettter be more than a shooter right away. Watson’s handle has gone from “hurry and get rid of the ball” to coming to get the ball at the end of a possession to run pick n roll. He still struggles a little making the right pass but he just needs more reps IMO and he could be a solid passing SG. Probably won’t get to Irvin’s level but will be better than MAAR. Also, along with Simpson, he handles the ball with MUCH more balance and confidence now. If he can force his way into playing alongside Matthews, we’ve got two of
the most athletic Wings in the conference. The final note, Watson outplayed MAAR in all three scrimmages I saw them two play together in. Twice, opposing MAAR, outplayed himand it wasn’t close. I’m hoping it translates more than anything because he’s got every tool to be a very good SG/SF.


That’s saying something coming from 1-and-done Kentucky!


As of this very moment, I could see 25 minutes for MAAR starting and 15 for Watson. He’s gotten that much better. MAAR is starting, no doubt in my mind. Watson is going to force Poole to get better or step aside because he’s improved an incredible amount IMO. I say that because I see Matthews locked in to 33-35 minutes at SF already. It’s going to be a great battle because Watson is very deserving of a shot to play and from what I’ve seen, he’s definitely going to be in the rotation.


I have always liked Watson’s potential but after last year it looked doubtful that he would pan out. But this is good news.


Here’s my question about Watson based on seeing him in limited action last year–how does he move laterally? Jumping high and running fast are important, and Ibi certainly has those attributes, but if a player is limited in terms of lateral quickness, it decimates their ability on the defensive end (hello, Aubrey Dawkins); conversely, guys who can move laterally can defend even if they’re not the most “athletic” guys in the world (Stu Douglass, Zak Irvin). I saw Matthews in high school, and he has tremendous lateral quickness. X, based on what I saw last year, has it. Where Watson shows up in that area may determine how much he’s going to play/contribute when the lights go on. I’d love to see him make it–saw him at the College Practice Camp in August, and he’s a really good kid and hard worker, who has added greatly to his athleticism and strength (22 pounds of muscle over last year–he’s cut).


Thanks for the updates! I’m curious to hear detailed thoughts on Davis if you have time.


Johnmiller, when and where did you see these people play? AFAIK the only opportunity would have been the week of practice in August, was that it?


No. I’ve seen these guys play multiple scrimmages together in multiple states. Not every scrimmage in loves all the players but every player I saw, I saw more than once. Obviously Charles I’ve seen the most of and Watson, Simpson and Davis I’ve seen quite a bit. There were scrimmages in Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan this summer. All these guys were playing a ton.

Simpson played about 4 days straight in Kentucky a few weeks ago.


His touch around the rim has improved greatly. Him being forced to guard Wilson and Wagner did wonders for him. He’s super strong, tough to move away from the hoop. He’d be top 2 or 3 in the big ten for rebounding if he played 30 minutes a game. Always had great hands and wants to dunk everything. Him forcing his way into minutes would be huge for us.


So, offering him a scholarship is no longer “laughable” as some had said in the past? :smiley:


How does X look shooting the outside shot, and using floaters, etc. once he gets into the lane?


He(Davis) looks the part of a legit big ten big man IMO. Now, I didn’t see this myself, but was told he took 500 3s and made 287 of them.

Making uncontested 3s is way different than in-game 3s. But he’s got a bright future IMO if he can hit a jump shot somewhat consistently. It might not even be this year, but is third year could be a big one.


Simpson tried getting rid of his set-shot 3 point shot and it didn’t go too well. Will he ever be a 40%+ 3 point shooter, probably not. His greatest area of improvement that I saw was confidence. He’s going to be just fine running pick n roll and passing out of it. We probably won’t ever see him shoot pull up 3s but he can get around the big trying to hedge and get into the lane rather easily now. Walton was pretty stiff when he attacked the rim from pick n roll IMO. Simpson is very shifty and can stay balanced when going to the hoop. Has gotten so much stronger with the ball. Bigger guys were having trouble trying to knock him off balance which is very impressive for a 5’9 kid.

He has always had a floater and a good one at that. Had trouble getting into position to use it due to lack of strength when dribbling. From what I saw this summer, that seems to be corrected and makes floaters with ease.


This is great stuff @johnmiller . Based on what you’ve seen, care to chime in on the 8 man vs. 9 or 10 man rotation conversation? I’d assume you see solid playing time for these 8: Simmons, X, MAAR, Watson, Duncan, Matthews, Wagner, Davis…but that may leave the backup 4 spot empty and no Livers/Poole


If the season started tomorrow:

PG - Simmons-Simpson
SG - MAAR-Poole
SF - Matthews-Watson
PF - Robinson
C - Wagner-Davis
I believe there is no debate as to who will be the starting 5 as of right now, seems set to me. A lot can happen in the next two months but Poole better figure out the defensive end during that time or we will see Watson backing up both SG and SF to start the year. Also, I put Poole backing up MAAR right not because he has the talent to play from game 1 on. Wouldn’t be surprised one bit to see Watson play more than him though.


Interesting reports. Thanks. It sounds like Davis has really impressed you and it does not sound like you think Livers will be ready to backup the 4. So related question: Has Wagner shown any improvement for possibly guarding power forwards?