Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: 4 Reasons Why Amile Jefferson Was Not a Good Fit
After the likes of Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist proved that one-and-done players can get it done, Kentucky's model of recruiting seems to be the model of success.
That is why Kentucky fans were so disappointed to miss out on recruit Amile Jefferson.
Jefferson is the 25th-ranked basketball recruit on ESPN's Top 100 going into the 2012-13 season, and committed to Duke a few months ago over other top teams like Kentucky.
In his senior year of high school, Jefferson averaged almost 20 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game.
Although he is such a high-ranked recruit out of high school, there are several reasons why Wildcats fans should not be too worried about missing out on Amile.
This article will go through the top four reasons that Amile Jefferson would not have fit into Kentucky's plans to repeat as champions this season.
1. Jefferson Has No Real Position
The scariest thing about Amile Jefferson is his size. While Jefferson hopes to be a power forward, he boasts only 190 pounds on his 6'7" frame. That means that he is neither big enough nor tall enough to adequately guard opposing power forwards.
To put it into context, another of Kentucky's recruits this year is Alex Poythress, a small forward. Poythress is coming into the season at 6'7" and 215 pounds, the same height as Jefferson but with an extra 25 pounds. That is a player who has a size advantage over Amile, even though he plays a smaller position.
The point is, does Kentucky need a player who is smaller than their small forward recruit yet wants to play power forward?
They already have size coming in with Nerlens Noel; they do not need a tweener who has yet to show that he can handle playing against either big men or smaller, quicker small forwards.
2. He Plays Suspect Defense
This problem should be an issue for any team, but especially for a young team like Kentucky.
According to Joe Treutlein of draftexpress.com, Jefferson has trouble guarding opposing big men and struggles with weak-side help defense. While he would not have had to play too much center—especially since the Wildcats added Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley this year—it is not a good sign that he struggles against size.
More importantly, it is worrisome that Jefferson struggles with help defense, since he should be a good weak-side shot-blocker if he wants to play power forward at his size.
The other problem is that Amile is a tweener in terms of his ability to guard small forwards and power forwards. Jefferson may be too slow to guard 3s but too small to guard 4s.
Finally, a talented defense is necessary for a team like Kentucky who relies on young players. Whereas Duke may be able to get by with using less-talented, but more-experienced players, Kentucky cannot.
It is probably a good thing for the Wildcats defense that they missed out on Jefferson.
3. Kentucky Is Already Stacked at Either Position He Would Play
Once again, Kentucky comes into the season stocked with young talent.
This season, like last, they have a lot of good new players coming into the forward spots, as well as a few returners who should be able to contribute solid minutes.
At power forward, Jefferson's supposed position, the Wildcats have sophomore Kyle Wiltjer. Wiltjer is a 6'9", 240-pound forward, which should illustrate how big the players are that Jefferson will have to go up against in college.
Kyle averaged five points and 1.8 rebounds last season in only 11.6 minutes per game. He also showed the ability to hit the three-ball, shooting 43.2 percent for the season, which should earn him valuable minutes.
The Wildcats also have both Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley coming in for this coming season. While both are listed as centers, they each are only 6'10" and 215 pounds. I would look for them to play quite a bit next to each other this season.
Combine them with incoming small forward Alex Poythress and I don't see many minutes for Jefferson on this roster. With his suspect defensive play, Amile may have ended up taking away good minutes from other talented players.
4. Jefferson's Offensive Game Is Still in Transition
Amile Jefferson has a talented post game, there is no denying that. With both Noel and Cauley down low, however, Jefferson would likely have been forced out of his element and into a perimeter-oriented game.
That move would have been to the detriment of Kentucky for one important reason.
Jefferson has an extremely unpolished outside game. He has not yet shown that he can shoot the ball effectively from the perimeter nor that he can drive to the hoop without risking a turnover.
If Jefferson was better at driving and slashing to the basket, then he might have been able to help Kentucky. But Jefferson hasn't shown that ability, and the Wildcats aren't strong at point guard, which makes that type of attacking approach from the forward position more difficult.
Most likely, Kentucky would have had to endure the growing pains of Jefferson's switch from a post-style offense to perimeter oriented offense.
Because of that, Jefferson would have ended up dragging down the Wildcat's offense while he figured out his own game, something that a team full of one-and-done players cannot afford.