Coach: John Calipari (3 seasons at Kentucky 102-14) Overall 505-152, 20 years
2011-12: Record 38-2 overall, 16-0 in SEC (1st)
Starters Returning (0)
Preseason Tournament: Barclays Center Classic
Top Non-Conference Games: vs. Duke, at Notre Dame, vs. Baylor, at Louisville
Transfer In : Julius Mays (Wright State – play right away)
Sat Out: Ryan Harrow (NC State), Jon Hood (injured)
Early Departure: Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Marquis Teague
Even after winning last year’s National Championship and losing their top six players the Wildcats are still a top 5 team. They just reload; not rebuild. This is John Calipari’s system to just keep on recruiting a bunch of one and dones. Who is going to argue this strategy when you’re winning the title. While he brings in elite players Calipari is one of heck of a coach he gets the most out of his players and they always play hard. For this year once gain he brings in the nation’s best recruiting class. He also adds an impact point guard that sat out last season.
The strength of this Kentucky team will be the frontcourt. Leading the way is the top recruit in the country in Nerlens Noel. Noel is almost the same player that Anthony Davis was minus the offensive skills. He is just a freakish athlete with great length that is a dominant rebounder and shot blocker.For a big man Noel is an excellent passer. He needs to get a little stronger. At power forward will be Kyle Wiltjer (5 ppg), the only real contributor off last year’s team. Even at 6’9” Wiltjer will be the best shooter on this Kentucky team; he shot 43% from three last season. He is highly skilled which allows to have some pretty good post moves. The question is can he defend and rebound? At small forward will be another five star recruit is Alex Poythress. His biggest strength is his explosiveness and athletic ability. What will make him tough to defend is that he is such a versatile scorer; he can score inside and out. He needs to improve his ballhandling. Poythress will remind fans of Terrence Jones. The top option off the bench will be Willie Cauley-Stein another talented freshman. He is basically the same player as Noel a dominant rebounder and shot blocker but offensive game still needs improvement. A problem for Kentucky could be depth here because the really don’t have any other options here.
Leading the Wildcats in the backcourt will be another stud freshman in Archie Goodwin. Goodwin is a flat out scorer. His biggest strength is his ability to attack the rim. He is explosive off the dribble and a freak athlete. He is also pretty good three point shooter. Goodwin also has the knack to get it done on the defense end. Like most freshman he needs to get stronger. Running the point guard duties will be NC State transfer Ryan Horrow, who sat out last season. He averaged 9.3 points pg in his freshman season with NC State. While he is not on the level of Calipari’s last 5 point guards he is still pretty darn good. The top option off the bench will be Wright State transfer Julius Mays. He averaged 14.1 ppg there and shot 42 % from three. Also providing depth will be Jon Hood, Jarrod Polson and Twany Beckhman.