Kentucky Wildcats roster 2013-14: Team of freshmen have high expectations


Another year, another monster recruiting class for Kentucky coach John Calipari.

It's becoming routine for college basketball fans. The Kentucky Wildcats again dominated the summer, bringing the best recruiting class to Lexington in 2013. In fact, five of ESPN's top nine recruits make up Kentucky's roster, so naturally the expectations are high.

The Wildcats vastly underperformed last year, ending the season with an opening-round NIT loss at Robert Morris. Archie Goodwin and Nerlens Noel are both in the NBA now, leaving a gaping hole for these freshmen to fill. Power forward Julius Randle comes in as the most highly touted recruit, with twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison not far behind. Dakari Johnson and James Young are also among the top-rated freshmen in the nation, while power forward Marcus Lee, who would be the prize recruit at most schools, can't be overlooked.


James Young, Fr.: Young comes to Kentucky as a McDonald's All-American and a Jordan Brand All-American, so his basketball resume is already loaded. He averaged 27.2 points, 16.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists as a senior at Rochester High School in Michigan. Though he is just one of the many recruits in Calipari's 2013 class, Young is from Flint, which is basically Tom Izzo and Michigan State's recruiting backyard.

Andrew Harrison, Fr.: Andrew is the higher rated of the Harrison twins, but that's not a knock on his brother. They are both talented guards who will make an impact right away. They both dominated the Under Armour circuit for the Houston Defenders and tore it up in high school at Travis. Andrew is primarily a point guard who excels one-on-one and in transition.

Aaron Harrison, Fr.: Aaron, on the other hand, is a shooting guard. He's a more consistent three-point shooter who knows how to get open in the half court. He and his brother were recruited as a package deal and chose the 2012 NCAA Champions over Maryland and SMU.

Dominique Hawkins, Fr.: Hawkins is a local product who will likely be overshadowed early by his blue-chip teammates. But that doesn't mean he can't contribute. He will see limited minutes at the point and should benefit from playing against the Harrisons and Young in practice. Hawkins might be the one running the show in a couple years.

Jarrod Polson, Sr.: You can't count out Polson as a threat to eat up some minutes in the backcourt either. Calipari says he has improved as much as anybody on the team this offseason and he can hold his own in practice against his teammates. Given the talent on this team, that says a lot.


Julius Randle, Fr.: The third Texas freshman for the Wildcats is the highest ranked newcomer on the team. Randle's numbers in high school were video game-like. As a senior, he averaged 32.5 points and 22.5 rebounds per game to lead Prestonwood Christian to a state title. You can pencil Randle in as the starting power forward for the Wildcats this year.

Marcus Lee, Fr.: Lee was a two-sport star in high school, excelling both in basketball and volleyball. The McDonald's All-American can run the floor and finish well for a freshman and has drawn comparisons to Derrick Williams, according to ESPN.

Willie Cauley-Stein, So.: Cauley-Stein was the Wildcats' second-best rebounder last year with 6.2 per game and will be forced to grow up quickly as one of the few non-freshmen projected to play significant minutes. He'll have the chance to up his draft stock even more this year after deciding not to enter the NBA Draft after last season.

Alex Poythress, So.: Poythress was Kentucky's second-leading scorer last year, only behind Goodwin. If he builds on the 11.2 points and 6.0 rebounds per game he posted last year, he can be a double-double threat to go along with Randle at the 4.

Derek Willis, Fr.: OK, so Willis isn't a typical top-10 Calipari recruit. But do you really think the Wildcats would waste their time on someone with no promise? ESPN describes him as a skilled power forward who has the ability to develop into a solid small forward in time. The scouting report also describes an offensive prowess beyond his years. And despite the talent that might be ahead of him on the depth chart, it never hurts to have a skilled and versatile 6'9 body coming off the bench.


Dakari Johnson, Fr.: The 7-footer from Brooklyn is the only player listed as a center on Kentucky's roster and the McDonald's All-American figures to be a force immediately. He'll score his share of points, but Johnson's real strength is his rebounding. He averaged 11 per game at high school powerhouse Montverde, leading them to a national championship.

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