Can Kentucky Shoot Well Enough to Win It All?

Posted by RJ Abeytia on December 16th, 2016

What does it all mean?

Whether we want to admit it or not, that’s the question we ask all season long in college basketball, where meaning is defined by crystal clear implication. We watch these games because we want to know before the rest of the sports world puts college basketball up on the biggest and brightest stage. Which of these teams can really win six straight in the NCAA Tournament? We’re inclined to believe that a number of teams can win, and they usually comprise the usual suspects. Take a look at the KenPom top 10 and who do we see? Duke, Villanova, Kentucky, Kansas, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisville, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Baylor. UCLA is just on the fringe at #11. That’s a pretty comprehensive list of blue-bloods, and blue is the color of focus here. Kentucky sits at #3 despite a loss to UCLA in Lexington. Nobody questions the roster John Calipari has once again constructed. It’s another one-year baby full of basketball talent, as it has been annually since he took the throne in Lexington.

Kentucky Has No Problem Finishing... (USA Today Images)

Kentucky Has No Problem Finishing… But What About Shooting? (USA Today Images)

Four seasons have passed since Kentucky won the National Championship. Two years ago, the Wildcats won 38 straight games before falling to Wisconsin in the Final Four. In that game, the Wildcats went only 3-of-5 from behind the three-point line and ended up ceding a net of 12 points to Wisconsin from behind the arc. This ultimately provided the margin and then some in a game most pundits expected to be a Kentucky appetizer before a main course dinner two nights later against Duke, itself full of one-and-done talent. Last year Kentucky was stopped well short of the Final Four by Indiana in large part because the Wildcats’ 4-of-16 performance from three-point range. Against Wisconsin, Kentucky knew it couldn’t hit outside shots and therefore simply refused to take them. Last year, they accepted Indiana’s dare and couldn’t hit the shots. The net of six points that went the Hoosiers’ way ended up as the final margin.

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Who’s Got Next? Meeting Kentucky’s Next Vaunted Recruiting Class

Posted by Sean Moran on November 24th, 2015


Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitment of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Foul dedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at

Note: used for all player rankings.

Kentucky took down Duke 74-63 in last Tuesday’s Champions Classic and now it has surged ahead of the Blue Devils in the race for the top recruiting class in 2016 as well. Adding two five-star recruits in the span of a week (and three in the span of a month) will usually do that. It started on November 12, when 6’3” point guard De’Aron Fox committed to John Calipari’s program. It continued last week, when 6’8” Edrice “Bam” Adebayo and 6’3” shooting guard Malik Monk followed Fox’s lead with commitments of their own.

Surprise, surprise - John Calipari is cleaning up on the recruiting trail. (Getty)

Surprise, surprise – John Calipari is cleaning up on the recruiting trail. (Getty)

So what is Kentucky getting in these three commitments? Fox will look to follow in the footsteps of John Wall and Brandon Knight, two of the many five-star point guards that Calipari has brought to Lexington during his tenure. He is a three-year veteran of the Nike EYBL, having first played on the Houston Hoops AAU squad as a rising sophomore with Justise Winslow, Kelly Oubre and Justin Jackson. Despite playing with older competition, Fox was usually somewhat of an afterthought in a loaded class of point guards. Even Kentucky originally prioritized Derryck Thornton (before he reclassified) and Kobi Simmons over Fox. However, this was before Fox put together a sensational summer and established himself at the front of the pack in a class that includes Dennis Smith, Frank Jackson (Duke commitment), Lonzo Ball and Simmons. The left-handed Fox is a menacing defensive presence who can lock down guards with his quick feet and fast hands. His primary weakness revolves around outside shooting, but he is a capable shooter off the dribble and is plenty explosive around the rim. While Fox was not always a priority for Kentucky, the Wildcats might have ended up with the best point guard in the class. Read the rest of this entry »

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