Kentucky Basketball: Predicting the Next Wave of Wildcat Stars
John Calipari has coached scores of stars during his three years at the University of Kentucky. It's sad to see these studs leave Lexington, but their departure opens the door for the next in line.
So who's next?
The 2012-13 roster has been set. In less than one month, we'll see players like Nerlens Noel and Alex Poythress take the place of Anthony Davis and Terrence Jones.
But chances are, we won't see Noel or Poythress more than one year in college.
Here are the players that will take the place of Noel and Poythress as the stars of Kentucky basketball.
Aaron and Andrew Harrison
Is it possible for the future of Kentucky basketball to be looking up?
That is a very real possibility. Aaron and Andrew Harrison verbally committed to the Wildcats on Oct. 4, just in time for Big Blue Madness and the start of the college basketball season.
But their announcement on ESPNU came with a surprise. Andrew made the announcement, saying "For the next four years, we will be attending the University of Kentucky."
The latter is the most important, but the former might be the most intriguing topic for the future. Four years at Kentucky? They would go down as the best duo in Kentucky basketball history.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had similar comments in the middle of last season, and he bolted for the NBA.
But what if? As twins, maybe they really do want to play basketball together for as long as possible... which would mean staying at the University of Kentucky for four years.
We can dream. So, who's next?
Unlike the Harrison twins, James Young wants to be one-and-done.
Like the Harrison twins, Young loves Kentucky.
But if Andrew Wiggins reclassifies, the shooting guard/ small forward positions would be set for the Wildcats. Young would be fighting the likes of Aaron Harrison and Wiggins for playing time, something he wouldn't have to do if he went elsewhere.
If Young wants elite competition, then Lexington is the place to be. John Calipari has put bench players in the NBA (most notably, Darius Miller) and Young would likely fall into that category.
His minutes would still be there. Aaron and Wiggins can't play all 40 minutes.
You want elite scoring off of the bench? Look no further than James Young. Throw in his ability to play shooting guard or small forward, and he'll still find plenty of minutes if the Kentucky class of 2013 receives a Wiggins commitment.
The next piece to a championship puzzle is a big man. There is no glaring "need" for the Wildcats in 2013-14, although the 2013 class could really use an elite post player.
Enter Julius Randle.
As the best post player in the 2013 class, Randle can go to any school in the country. He's down to his final six schools, and (surprise!) Kentucky makes the cut.
John Calipari will have a tough time snagging Randle's signature from the slew of local Big 12 schools that made his list.
The Big 12 is notorious for housing elite big men: Thomas Robinson, Tristan Thompson and Blake Griffin were all selected in the top five of the NBA draft—and all three went to different Big 12 schools that are on Randle's list.
He's battled with the Harrison twins on countless occasions, and to have the chance to play alongside them should be a tantalizing idea.
Randle wouldn't be "the guy" at UK like he would at Oklahoma or Texas. But he would have a great chance to win a national championship, and he'd receive invaluable experience playing beside NBA talent.
This is not a picture of Andrew Wiggins.
This is a picture of John Calipari scouting Wiggins at the Nike Global Challenge, an event that took place in July.
Wiggins is the best high school basketball player in the world. He's better than the Harrison twins. He's better than Julius Randle. He's better than Jabari Parker.
And if he reclassifies to the 2013 class and if he selects the Kentucky Wildcats as his school of choice, then the 2013-14 season could go down as one of the best in Kentucky history.
But will Wiggins reclassify? If James Young commits to the Wildcats before Wiggins makes his decision, will Wiggins decide to be "the man" at Florida State, his parents' alma mater, instead of playing in Lexington?
Elite players should crave the elite competition that Kentucky can offer in practice alone.
That's a lot of "ifs." But they are all very realistic possibilities.
Don't be "that guy" that thinks Kentucky doesn't need a Marcus Lee-type player.
Lee, ranked 28th in the ESPN 100, probably won't be one-and-done, especially if Julius Randle and/or Kyle Wiltjer is/are playing in front of him.
But say the bench is bare after the upcoming 2012-13 season and Randle chooses to take his talents elsewhere. Lee would instantly become an integral piece in the 2013 recruiting class for John Calipari.
At 6'9", Lee has perfect power forward size. He may not have the strength yet to play down low in college, but his length would be a benefit on both ends of the floor.
Lee could be a two- or three-year player under Calipari. In that time, he would become a star.