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John Calipari Wants Returning Kentucky Player To Seize New Opportunity

John Calipari during NCAA Tournament.

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - MARCH 29: Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts against the Houston Cougars during the 2019 NCAA Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional at Sprint Center on March 29, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Unlike many seasons at Kentucky, John Calipari has a handful of returning players he can rely on. Each NBA prospect that elected to come back for another season of college basketball will play a crucial role for the Wildcats.

Ashton Hagans and EJ Montgomery were the two most surprising returnees to Kentucky. It's possible that both would have been selected in the upcoming NBA Draft.

In addition to having those rising sophomores on the roster, Calipari gets to coach Nick Richards for another season. He decided to withdraw from the draft process and return for his junior campaign.

Richards saw his numbers decline in his second year with the Wildcats. However, the former five-star recruit could see his role expand very soon.

Calipari has a ton of confidence in Richard heading into the offseason, but he wants to see him take that next step in his career.

From Vaught's Views:

"He hasn’t been treated any different than any other player here and now he’s got this opportunity in front of him. He’s going to have to go and take it, but it’s still an opportunity,” Calipari said. “It’s his job to go take it.

“I believe he will. I believed in the kid probably in the first two years more than he believed in himself. I’m not the only one. I think a lot of people are saying with his size and length, who’s like him in the country? There is nobody. There’s no one like him in the country, so now it’s his chance.”

With PJ Washington and Reid Travis no longer members of the Wildcats, the frontcourt can use Richard's length to anchor their defense.

Kentucky enters next season on a short list of favorites to win the national championship.

[Vaught's Views]