The Kentucky Wildcats, once again, have one of the best recruiting classes in the nation. Nerlens Noel joined Archie Goodwin, Willie Cauley and Alex Poythress April 11 on national television. The players that stay, however, will determine whether or not Kentucky can repeat in 2013.
If the top six for the Wildcats take their talents to the NBA this fall, Kentucky will still have talent to remain in the top five for preseason rankings.
Here's what the starting five would look like without the top six next year:
PG: Ryan Harrow—Harrow is a transfer from North Carolina State, and was rated as the sixth-best point guard in the loaded 2010 class. Harrow came in ranked ahead of guys like Kendall Marshall, Phil Pressey and Aaron Craft.
SG: Archie Goodwin—Goodwin was the first to commit to Kentucky's stellar 2012 class. He's ranked 14th nationally by Rivals and should come in and start just like Doron Lamb did two years ago.
SF: Alex Poythress—Poythress is a top ten recruit and has a long, athletic body reminiscent of Terrence Jones from two years ago. He's a bit more perimeter-oriented compared to Jones, but he can score from anywhere.
PF: Kyle Wiltjer—Count me in as a fan who thinks Wiltjer will have a breakout year in 2012-13. He's great at spreading the floor and should see a huge boost in minutes next year.
C: Nerlens Noel—He's the one that brings this class to the top. Dubbing him as a better shot-blocker than Anthony Davis is a bit impulsive, but he's got the talent. As my colleague Nick Nafpilotis so eloquently stated, "Noel committing [is] huge: Helps spell Anthony Davis next year and gives us yet another great freshmen center with a weird hair-based feature."
Depth will once again be an issue with this starting five(when is it not?), but the talent will still be top notch. Cauley will provide depth behind Noel down low, and gives coach John Calipari another talented freshman to work with.
However, Calipari may have more depth than ever next year. Marquis Teague and Doron Lamb could stay, and there are three power forwards still considering Kentucky: Anthony Bennett, Amile Jefferson and Alex Oriakhi.
I am one of the few holding out hope with Jefferson, as it looks like he's narrowed his list to three schools, none named Kentucky.
Bennett and Oriakhi are both interesting targets, and both would challenge Wiltjer for minutes at power forward. Not to mention, both add bulk to a slender Kentucky frontcourt.
Whether it is returnees, transfers or more freshmen commitments, the Kentucky Wildcats are poised to have another stellar starting five. The inclusion of Noel in the class of 2012 makes the Kentucky defense imposing, regardless of the four players around him.
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