Kentucky Basketball: How Loss of Starting 5 Will Impact 2013 Championship Odds

Eric BowmanFeatured ColumnistApril 18, 2012

LEXINGTON, KY - APRIL 17:  Anthony Davis, Doron Lamb,Terrence Jones, John Calipari the Kentucky Wildcats, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague talks with the media during the news conference in which all five players announced  they will enter the NBA draft at Joe Craft Center on April 17, 2012 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The defending champion Kentucky Wildcats took a major setback yesterday in their quest for back-to-back titles, but the possibility of winning it all once again is still there. 

Head Coach John Calipari does a superb job in recruiting, and Kentucky will have little to no trouble tearing through its schedule this upcoming season. 

Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb all declared for the 2012 NBA draft on Tuesday night in a press conference that aired on ESPN. If you missed it, check out the video below. 

It's a shame we won't get to see how many national titles these guys would have won together, but that's the nature of the college game these days. One-and-done players will continue to surface in the sport, especially with Calipari having immense success with the players he brings to Kentucky. 

With that said, Big Blue Nation must now get acquainted with new faces, but it won't take very long because these guys will be stars next year. 

Luckily for the Wildcats, SEC basketball isn't overpowering, which means they can definitely rebound from losing their starting five. Since other strong SEC basketball programs lost key players as well, Kentucky will be just fine in conference play. 

That will lead to a great seed in the NCAA tournament, and then it's up to Calipari to prepare his new young guns for another title run. 

Headlining the recruiting class for Kentucky this year is ESPN's No. 1 overall player, Nerlens Noel. He's a 6'10", 215-pound center that will soon make everyone forget how dominant Anthony Davis was. 

Noel has big shoes to fill, but there's a chance he ends up being better than Davis. Joining Noel are other prized recruits in small forward Alex Poythress and shooting guard Archie Goodwin. 

Kentucky will also look for help from Kyle Wiltjer, an elite recruit from last year's class that took a back seat to the bigger stars this year. He's a 6'9", 239-pound power forward that will only continue to get better over the summer. 

The Wildcats will have the size and strength in Noel and Wiltjer, as well as the great shooting and scoring ability of Poythress and Goodwin. 

They may not be the overwhelming favorites like they were this past season, but there is no denying that the Wildcats will still be strong contenders for another national title run. Their progress over the course of the season will determine a great deal, but Calipari should easily have them ready to go when the madness of March rolls around in 2013. 



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