Incoming Class Should Bring Calipari A Second National Title
Jeremiah Short, The Current Voice
Already sporting the No. 1 recruiting class in America, John Calipari added a centerpiece on Wednesday– Julius Randle. Randle, who is projected to get selected in the top-five of the 2014 NBA Draft, headlines a class that features six players–Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, James Young and Randle who were named 2013 McDonald’s All-Americans.
Calipari isn’t done.
He’s still in the mix to secure the services of Andrew Wiggins, who is the consensus No. 1 player in the country and projected top pick in next year’s draft. Wiggins is down to four teams: North Carolina, Kansas, Florida State and Kentucky. Kentucky, along with Florida State, is the favorite to get his signature. Wiggins has a choice of playing at his parents’ alma mater(FSU) or becoming a member of the greatest recruiting class ever.
Wildcat fans dream about adding these talented incoming players with their four current freshmen: Nerlens Noel, Willie Cauley-Stein, Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress. Their dream is just that…a dream.
Even with a torn ACL, Noel, the Wildcats’ superstar center, is expected to get taken in top-five of 2013 NBA Draft.
After an emotional loss in the first round of the N.I.T., Cauley-Stein, Goodwin and Poythress announced that they would likely return for their sophomore season. But I think even the most hardcore Wildcat fan knows that there’s a higher chance Lil Wayne quits using codeine syrup.
With this year’s crop of “one-and-doners” bolting for the NBA, Calipari will be forced to do something a marquee college coach hasn’t done in a little over 20 years–start five freshmen. For the uninitiated, Michigan’s former coach Steve Fisher started five freshmen in 1992. The freshmen–Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwon Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson became known as the “Fab Five.”They are credited with changing the culture of college basketball–infusing the hip-hop culture into the sport. And they became the first college “super team” people loved to hate.
That would be the worst thing for college basketball. I hated those bald heads, black socks, black shoes and baggy shorts. And that arrogance. I’m glad they got their banners taken down, although no one except for me will forget them.
Is that you, Bobby Knight? Man, you said that with your chest.
But I have a question: Why would it hurt the game? The buzz alone would generate more excitement than the 2012-13 college season has. I don’t think they could replicate the impact of the Fab Five, but I do believe the future “diaper dandies” would inject much needed life into the college game.
Coach Cal and his darn one-and-doners are devaluing the college degree.
How? I thought the purpose of college is to prepare kids for their chosen work field . Calipari is doing just that. I will let you in on another secret: A college degree isn’t worth the paper used to print it. Yep, I said it.
So, you’re saying people shouldn’t go to college?
No, I’m saying don’t crucify these kids for using their God-given ability to put themselves in a better financial position. I graduated from college, and I can tell you that the degree itself is the least important part. Networking, learning from your mistakes and becoming a mature adult bring more value than a piece of paper. Lessons they learn in one heavily scrutinized season at Kentucky.
Enough with the soap box. Let’s talk about what these kids can do on the court.
If Wiggins signed with the Wildcats and was plugged in at small forward, the rest of the starting five would likely consist of Lee, Randle and the Harrison twins. An argument can be made that Johnson would start, but I feel Lee fits that classic mold of a “Coach Cal” big man–long, lean and athletic (see: Robert Dozier, Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel.)
Johnson, Young and returning veterans–Ryan Harrow(Junior) and Kyle Wiltjer(Junior)–give Calipari a solid group of reserves.
This team has all the ingredients of a championship team.
Scoring: Wiggins is the first option, as he can easily put up 30 on a bad night. After Wiggins, opponents will have to pick their poison. Randle is a beast in the post. The Harrison twins give the “Cats” one the best scoring backcourts in the nation. And Young could dominate opponents’ second units.
Rebounding: With Lee(6’9), Randle(6’9), Wiltjer(6’9) and Johnson(6’11), the Wildcats’ team will again place among the best nationally in rebounding. ( The Wildcats pulled down 39.2 rebounds this season, finishing 14th nationally.)
Shooting: Wiltjer will spread the floor and allow the Wildcat guards to penetrate in Calipari’s dribble-drive system. The Harrison twins can stroke it, as well.
Shot-Blocking: Kentucky has finished 2nd and 1st nationally in shot blocking the past two years–as Davis(4.7 blocks per game) and Noel(4.4 blocks per game) anchored their respective Wildcat defenses. With Lee in the middle, the Wildcats will continue to erase shots at a high clip next season.
Athleticism: Calipari teams have always been athletic. Next year’s team won’t be any different. Lee is a human pogo-stick. Young can jump out of the gym. And Randle has rare athleticism for a 240-pound power forward. Can you say “Lob City” in Lexington, Kentucky?
While they won’t have a true veteran leader, their collective talent usurps any lack of experience. Roles need to get defined and players’ egos must be brushed aside. But Calipari’s history suggests he is up to the task.
With Louisville, North Carolina, Michigan State and Baylor on the non-conference schedule, Calipari isn’t afforded any time to figure it out. His team has to come out of the gate sprinting.
If they do that, Calipari could envision his long-time coaching goal–an undefeated record.
You didn’t go there, did you?
Oh, I did.
Calipari’s version of the Fab Five could do what the original failed to do: Win the national title.
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