Won and Done… Kentucky Roster Undergoes Yearly Overhaul

Posted by EMoyer on April 18th, 2012

On Tuesday evening, the worst kept secret was revealed as Kentucky’s five heralded underclassmen, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague all declared for June’s NBA Draft. The five brings the total to 15 of John Calipari recruits to leave early since 2008.

It Was All Smiles For This Group in Lexington

Eight of the previous 10 went on to become first round picks and two (John Wall and Derrick Rose) went No. 1 overall. Both the mock drafts at NBADraft.net and on ESPN.com have all five Wildcats going in the first round. DraftExpress.com lists four Wildcats going in the first round with Lamb currently an early second-round choice. According to all three sites, Davis will join Wall and Rose as top overall picks. They also agree that Kidd-Gilchrist projects as a top three pick and two (ESPN.com and DraftExpress.com) put Jones in the lottery.

So what kind of team will Coach Cal field in November as the reigning national champion? To no big surprise, he will unveil a blue-chip-laden recruiting class in the fall that features the top ranked player according to ESPN.com, Nerlens Noel. The four-person class also includes power forward Alex Poythress (No. 8 Rivals/No. 13 ESPN) shooting guard Archie Goodwin (No. 14 Rivals/No. 15 ESPN) and center Willie Cauley (No 40 ESPN and Rivals). The Wildcats will also add NC State transfer Ryan Harrow to run the point. While this team had featured some returning experience in Jones and Lamb and Darius Miller, the 2012-13 team won’t feature nearly the same amount of experience. “Next year, we have one guy with any experience,” Calipari said of forward Kyle Wiltjer. “That’s it. Everybody else either hasn’t played or played very little. For some reason, we’ll be ranked very high.”

What could help the Wildcats as they introduce a fourth new team in as many seasons is that several other SEC early-entry candidates also declared for the draft, led by Florida’s Bradley Beal and Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins. Beal paced a Gator squad than made a second straight Elite Eight while Jenkins became the first SEC player in 16 years to lead the league in scoring in consecutive seasons. Mississippi State also must replace a pair of juniors, Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney, and Alabama severed ties with Tony Mitchell. UK also won’t have to deal with Khris Middleton, the Preseason Player of the Year in the Big 12 entering the season for Texas A&M, who missed 12 games due to knee injuries.

A second benefit is that none of the other SEC schools seemed to take much advantage of the recruiting season. According to ESPN.com, Florida posted the second-best recruiting class, coming in at No. 25. The next-best SEC school, according to Rivals, is A&M at No. 28. The four Wildcat recruits rank as the top four freshman coming into the league next season. Florida’s Braxton Ogbueze (No. 50) owns the top ranking of the five other ESPNU top 100 recruits coming to the SEC of those not headed to Lexington. Calipari has repeatedly shown an ability to win big with young talent. If he does indeed hold to his word and stay at Kentucky, Big Blue Nation should expect another exciting brand of basketball  inside Rupp Arena played by players they’ll be saying goodbye to five months after their first collegiate game.

EMoyer (47 Posts)

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