Kentucky Basketball: Why Ryan Harrow Is the Wildcats' Most Indispensable Player

Nick NafpliotisCorrespondent IJanuary 11, 2013

Nov 01, 2012; Lexington , KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Ryan Harrow (12) shoots the ball against Northwood Seahawks guard Ra'Shad James (23) during the game at Rupp Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

When it's all said and done and the dust has settled on the 2012-2013 season, Ryan Harrow will have been the Wildcats' most indispensable player. Considering all the weapons and incredible talent that UK has, that may be a little hard to believe, but one only has to look at Kentucky's progress since Harrow returned to the team in late November.

Fellow B/R Kentucky columnist Bobby Reagan already wrote a great breakdown of why Harrow will be the SEC player of the year, which mirrors many of the same reasons that Harrow is the most important piece of the puzzle Cal has to solve if he wants this team to return to the Final Four.

For starters, the point guard is always the main component to any Calipari squad. One thing about Harrow that really stands out, however, is his ability to hang on to the ball and not turn it over.

While most of Cal's point guards typically have an issue in that area, Harrow has a knack for the protecting the ball that has ended up being a HUGE lift to this very young and inexperienced team. There is no doubt that Archie Goodwin is incredibly talented, but he also leads the team in turnovers, which often made his time as the team's starting point guard a liability.

Harrow is currently averaging 3.4 assists per game compared to only one turnover per game...and he's continuing to get better each game at finding players in optimal scoring positions.

He has also ended up giving the Cats a huge scoring lift. Despite only currently averaging nine points per game, that number includes his playing time early in the season when he wasn't getting very many minutes and still hadn't found his niche with the team.

Over the last five games, however, he has averaged 16.6 points per game, often leading the Wildcats in scoring. His ability to slice through the lane or drill shots from the outside (44 percent from behind the arc over the past five games, as well) is not only a scoring asset, but it also keeps opposing defenses off balance and allows his teammates to get open. 

Ryan Harrow may have had a very shaky (and strange) beginning to the season, but he has finally begun to perform like the player that the Big Blue Nation heard rave reviews about from practice all of last year. In a season where inexperience and youth has never been more apparent for a Calipari-coached team, it will be Harrow that can keep the Wildcats headed in the right direction back to the Final Four.


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