#1 Kentucky Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Kentucky Wildcats

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #1
Conference Rank: #1 SEC

Kentucky Team Page#1 Kentucky Men's Basketball 2013-2014 PreviewBuy Kentucky Basketball Tickets

Head Coach John Calipari is building himself an empire. He has built winners before. Eight years at Massachusetts produced five consecutive NCAA Tournament berths and a trip to the Final Four, although the tournament wins from that final season were later vacated by the NCAA. Nine years at Memphis produced similarly successful results, with similar subsequent penalties. The Tigers made the Big Dance six times, won over 30 games four times and made the championship game in 2007-2008, which was later vacated. Calipari knows how to coach, knows how to win and, best of all, knows how to recruit. It has seemed like he skirted the rules to be so successful at the latter but no specific penalties have come down on Coach Cal himself at either of his previous stops, and as far as recruiting at Kentucky has gone, everything checks out and he is the best in the country at it.

2012-13 Record: 21-12, 12-6
2012-13 Postseason: NIT
Coach: John Calipari
Coach Record: 123-26 at Kentucky, 526-162* overall (official NCAA records)

Who’s Out:
Last year was one of the more disappointing seasons for Kentucky fans. Things started off swimmingly. Calipari brought in another superb recruiting class (ranked second in the country) but the players seemed to underachieve or, in the case of top player Nerlens Noel, get hurt. And then the expected exodus occurred, although it wasn't as all-encompassing as some predicted. Senior leader Julius Mays is gone. Freshmen Archie Goodwin and Noel both departed for the NBA. Sophomores Ryan Harrow and Kyle Wiltjer also moved on, transferring to Georgia State and Gonzaga respectively. But it could have been worse for Kentucky, a team used to losing entire starting lineups and reloading the following season. Freshmen standout prospects Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein both returned to school after not quite living up to expectations their first seasons.

Who’s In:
Teamed with Poythress and Cauley-Stein is another elite recruiting class brought in by Coach Calipari. In fact, his 2013 class is ranked as the best in the country, the fifth straight year Kentucky has claimed either the best or second best class in the country. The stars come early and often, so follow along closely. In a group of eight incoming freshmen, Kentucky has two 3-star players, a 4-star player (who is sure to be forgotten in this mess), and FIVE 5-star players. The 5-star recruits, all with grades 94 or higher, are as follows: the nation's #1 shooting guard Aaron Harrison, #3 small forward James Young, #2 center Dakari Johnson, #1 point guard Andrew Harrison, and #1 power forward Julius Randle.

Who to Watch:
While this team has as many as eight 4-star or higher recruits on its current roster, the man to keep an eye on is power forward Julius Randle. Whenever an NBA guy brings up Andrew Wiggins as the number one player for the 2014 draft, there is someone never too far behind saying, "Not so fast!" Julius Randle is still in that discussion. The McDonald's All-American and third overall player according to ESPN 100, Randle has a legitimately developed offensive repertoire already. While most high schoolers rely on their athleticism to get by for the first couple months of D-1 basketball, Randle knows what to do with the ball posting up or facing up. He has a solid jump shot and should be a near-impossible cover from game one of his freshman season.

Final Projection:
John Calipari has done it again. Although last year's team was disappointing, the pieces were there. Perhaps they didn't fit or didn't develop or strictly fell apart without Nerlens Noel. Whatever the case, one year failing to make the NCAA Tournament does not mean Cal can't recruit anymore. This freshman class is just as good as the Anthony Davis class and has been compared favorably, because of the depth, to Michigan's fabled Fab Five class. It is also possible that Kentucky will, at least at some point, trot out an entire starting lineup of freshmen a la Michigan in 1992. Assuming playing time and rotations can be squared away, another trip to the Final Four is the goal for this team, no question.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Andrew Harrison, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Aaron Harrison, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
James Young, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Julius Randle, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Willie Cauley-Stein, Sophomore, Center, 8.3 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.6 (55th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.5 (116, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.5 (15, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.2 (30, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.6 (235, 10)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.6 (135, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 64.2 (313, 12)
Rebound Margin: 4.3 (48, 4)
Assists Per Game: 13.4 (128, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.0 (156, 8)

Madness 2014 NBA Draft Rankings:
#4 Julius Randle
#5 Willie Cauley-Stein
#8 Andrew Harrison
#9 James Young
#32 Alex Poythress
#72 DaKari Johnson
#109 Ryan Harrow

Madness 2013 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#2 Julius Randle
#5 Andrew Harrison
#6 Aaron Harrison
#10 James Young
#11 DaKari Johnson
#13 Marcus Lee
#106 Derek Willis


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