Kentucky team capsule: Wildcats seek another championship in 2014

USA TODAY Sports

Armed with another loaded recruiting class, John Calipari looks to win his second national title in three years.

Last year was a failure in Lexington. A top-rated recruiting class didn't pan out for various reasons, and it led to an uninspiring first round loss in the NIT just one year after cutting the nets down as national champions.

Fortunately for head coach John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats, another loaded recruiting class and a couple of talented returnees have UK poised for yet another national title run in 2014.

Here is all you need to know about the Wildcats.

2013 Record: 21-12, 12-6 SEC

2013 Postseason: Lost in NIT

Key Returnees: Alex Poythress (11.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg), Willie Cauley-Stein (8.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg)

Key Losses: Nerlens Noel (NBA Draft), Archie Goodwin (NBA Draft), Ryan Harrow (transfer), Kyle Wiltjer (transfer*), Julius Mays (graduated)

*Wiltjer announced his intentions to transfer last month, but he is yet to make any final decision. A redshirt may also be possible.

Key Additions: Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, James Young, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee

2013-14 Outlook:

No team in the country will have as much talent as Kentucky does when they take the floor. Getting a bunch of new pieces to gel and develop together will be the key for coach Calipari, as usual.

The two primary returnees from last year's team will be asked to hold things down at least in the early going of the season. Alex Poythress flashed moments of brilliance as a freshman before really slowing down during conference play in February and March, reaching double-digits in scoring just two times. Cauley-Stein, on the other hand, started off slowly and did not get a lot of early playing time, but really picked it up late in the year.

For a team that's going to be arguably the youngest in the country next season, Poythress and Cauley-Stein will be looked to as leaders both on and off the court.

Digging into the recruiting class, it's tough to recall a group of incoming freshmen as talented as this one.

Julius Randle is regarded as the top player in UK's class. Most NBA scouts felt he would've gone No. 1 overall in this summer's NBA Draft if he was eligible. At 6'9 and 225 pounds, Randle has the size and athleticism to both score the ball and lock in on the defensive end. If his jump shot continues to improve the way it did during his senior year of high school, watch out.

Twin brothers Aaron and Andrew Harrison will be a matchup nightmare for teams out of the backcourt. Andrew is better suited at point guard but can handle either spot. Aaron is more of the prototypical shooting guard with a better shot. Both brothers have high basketball IQs and really get after the opposition when on the floor together.

Dakari Johnson will hold down the paint with his tremendous size and strength. He's not a great athlete and is limited offensively outside of the paint, but his ceiling is arguably as high as any big man in the 2013 class. James Young projects to see a bulk of his minutes at small forward. A lefty who can score a lot of points in a hurry, look for the comparisons to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to come early and often.

Bottom Line:

Nothing is guaranteed with freshmen, but it's tough to not get excited about this class. The Wildcats could have as many as seven first-round picks on their roster. If Calipari is able to get his players to buy into specific roles on both ends of the floor, it's tough to see Kentucky losing too many times next year. The sky is the limit for this team, and they will certainly be ranked in the preseason top-three by every publication.

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