Kentucky Basketball: 4 Unsung Heroes on the Wildcats Roster

Matt Overing@@MOveringContributor IIISeptember 4, 2012

Kentucky Basketball: 4 Unsung Heroes on the Wildcats Roster

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    Kentucky basketball is defined by freshmen. Big Blue Nation is hyped up to see Nerlens Noel and Alex Poythress on campus—not Twany Beckham.

    That's why you won't see Noel or Poythress on this list. They are already praised as the "next in line" in a storied three-year stretch with John Calipari in Lexington. Instead, you'll find the players that don't get as much love in Lexington.

    At the surface, these unsung heroes for the Wildcats may be difficult to find. The defending champions are one of the most talked about college basketball teams in the country, even in the offseason, and every team action is noted.

    These four players aren't getting the hype that they deserve. Each will play a key role in the upcoming season, whether it is coming off of the bench or playing significant minutes for the defending champs.

Twany Beckham

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    We'll start with the cover boy.

    Twany Beckham came to Kentucky after spending three years at Mississippi State. He averaged 15 minutes per game in Starkville his (redshirt) sophomore season, a mark he never surpassed in his first year in Lexington. 

    So why is Beckham in Lexington? Why did John Calipari give him a scholarship

    I like to think on the positive side: Beckham has something to prove, and Calipari has a use for him. 

    We'll have to wait and see to find out what use Calipari sees in Beckham. His size is more than ideal for defensive purposes, and his offense is hardly a detriment to the team. 

    With his experience and leadership, Beckham should find his way into Calipari's rotation. Ten minutes per game as a defensive specialist seems doable, considering the lack of size at guard for the Wildcats.

Ryan Harrow

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    You'll notice a guard trend on this list, particularly because the three big men on the roster(Willie Cauley-Stein, Nerlens Noel and Kyle Wiltjer) are the most talked about Wildcats this offseason.

    Ryan Harrow continues that trend. He's had a quiet offseason, partly because he's off of Twitter and partly because, well, no one is talking about him.

    It's easy to forget about Harrow, all things considered. He sat in 2011-12 after transferring from NC State following his freshman year. He's considered a starter, but Coach Calipari has done nothing to guarantee that through his talks with the media.

    Calipari might have hoped to push Harrow's buttons when he told ESPN's Andy Katz he only knew two starters for next year (Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress).

    For all we know, Cal was serious.

    I side with the former. Harrow wasn't a stud at NC State, but he was solid. He can shoot. He's athletic. He's more familiar with the Dribble Drive Motion than any other Kentucky guard. 

    At this point, however, Harrow's production is an unknown. He could lead the Wildcats in points, assists and steals and I wouldn't be shocked. Nor would I be shocked to see Harrow split time with Twany Beckham, Goodwin and Julius Mays at the point.

    Harrow is an interesting topic for the 2012-13 season, but has yet to garner the attention of previous Calipari point guards. 

Jon Hood

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    The trend continues, but position is not the only thing these players have in common. They're also all upperclassmen. 

    At Kentucky, the big names are freshmen and the occasional returning sophomore. It's easy to see why a list of "unsung heroes" consists of juniors and seniors.

    Much like Twany Beckham, Jon Hood has experience in the Kentucky system, but hasn't seen much on-court action. An ACL injury kept him out last season, and his contributions to the 2012-13 team are still up in the air.

    Hood could play a role akin to the one Kyle Wiltjer played in 2011-12: a three-point shooting specialist, where player matchups determine minutes each game.

    Anything more seems unlikely, considering Hood will be playing behind two fab freshmen (Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress) on the wing. 

Julius Mays

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    Julius Mays was a low-profile addition to the 2012-13 Kentucky Wildcats roster. He doesn't have Ryan Harrow's hops. He doesn't have Archie Goodwin's size. 

    But, continuing the trend, he's experienced. He has played three years of college basketball and has been in college for four. 

    He's scored more points than any of his Kentucky teammates at the collegiate level. He's a two guard at heart but can play some point as well.

    How much will Mays play? One would assume he's ahead of Twany Beckham and Jon Hood on the depth chart, but behind Harrow and Goodwin. 

    With that being said, Mays could easily see 20 minutes per game. His three-point shooting (42 percent last year) is a key need on a team that is short on outside threats.