Changes are coming to the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team. After a shocking first round loss in the NIT, John Calipari's season is officially over.
On the bright side, Kentucky just secured a commitment from the No. 1 power forward in the class of 2013 (via ESPN). Julius Randle is a member of the Big Blue Nation.
His commitment makes for a few interesting developments in the coming months. Who stays now that Kentucky has an absurdly deep class coming in next year? Who starts next year?
There are 13 scholarship positions available. I have listed 13 players in the next five slides, players that I believe will hold a scholarship next season.
Obviously, there are plenty of moving parts in this situation. The 2013 class isn't finished just yet. Some players may go pro. Others may transfer.
We do know that Kentucky is not for everyone. Here are my predictions for the rotation next season.
Starter: Andrew Harrison (Fr.)
Reserves: Jarrod Polson (Sr.), Dominique Hawkins (Fr.)
The changes begin at point guard.
Harrison should have the position on lock down to start the season, that much is a given. Polson should be back in town and on scholarship for this team. He deserves it.
My boldest prediction here is that Ryan Harrow will not be in Kentucky blue next season. He has already said he will return to college, but when he and John Calipari have their end-of-the-year meeting, something tells me Harrow won't like what he hears.
Harrow wouldn't play much with the Harrison twins in the backcourt. Add in the that Calipari could use Harrow's scholarship to mold a young four-year point guard (Hawkins), and I don't see Harrow coming back.
Hawkins voices his love for the Big Blue Nation on his Twitter. He's from the Bluegrass State. He, like Polson, would have the heart to play for the name on the front of his jersey.
Starter: Aaron Harrison (Fr.)
Reserves: Archie Goodwin (So.)
Archie Goodwin has said he is not ready for the NBA. Who disagrees?
But if Goodwin returns, he may return to a spot on the bench. Harrison is a better shooter than Goodwin. Unless that changes, Goodwin will not be Kentucky's starting shooting guard.
An interesting route John Calipari could take is to place Goodwin at the small forward position. He'd be battling James Young for playing time in that scenario, and Young will probably be the best shooter on the team next year.
After this season, though, do Kentucky fans want Goodwin back in Lexington? More importantly, does Calipari?
Julius Randle's commitment does not affect Goodwin's playing time. I think he stays.
Starter: James Young (Fr.)
Reserves: Jon Hood (Sr.)
James Young should be a starter in Lexington next year.
He'll be the best pure shooter on the roster. With slashing guards like Aaron and Andrew Harrison, Young should receive plenty of open looks.
There are a few changes that could happen to this position.
First, as stated on the previous slide, Archie Goodwin could take this spot. I say that's doubtful.
Second, Marcus Lee could play small forward if his shooting is up to the task. Again, it's doubtful that he overtakes Young for this spot.
Finally, Andrew Wiggins could start over Young. Wiggins may not commit to Kentucky, but if he does, he's a guaranteed starter. And you may be able to guarantee something else.
Chad Ford of ESPN says if UK gets Wiggins "they'll have the greatest collection of college talent ever assembled in history of the game."
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) March 20, 2013
If Kentucky adds Wiggins, Hood's run with Kentucky would likely end. Moreover, if any other player stays (Ryan Harrow, Nerlens Noel), they'd likely take Hood's spot.
Hood has given his body for this program. In a perfect world, he stays and wins another ring at Kentucky.
Starter: Julius Randle (Fr.)
Reserves: Marcus Lee (Fr.), Kyle Wiltjer (Jr.), Derek Willis (Fr.)
Here is the most interesting position for the 2013-14 season.
Julius Randle will be the starter. After him, though, is anyone's guess.
Marcus Lee and Derek Willis will be there, that much we know. Lee has an outside shot at starting at small forward or center, but chances are he'll be one of the first Wildcats off of the bench.
There have been rumors that Wiltjer will transfer, but I say he stays. He won't have a large role, but he hasn't had one in two years at Kentucky. Shooters are always welcome, and he'd fill a similar role to the one he played in 2011-12.
That year turned out well.
With Randle's commitment, however, Alex Poythress may not return to Lexington. He may not be ready for the NBA, but he'd be a lottery pick as long as he had strong workouts.
Poythress could transfer as well, but I would think he'd take the NBA over another collegiate team.
Does Poythress want to return in a smaller role? Would he play better with more high-profile players around him?
Truth is, we won't know until he announces. Personally, I'd love to see him stay and battle against Randle and Lee every day in practice. If he does, he'd likely take Jon Hood or Jarrod Polson's scholarship spot.
Starter: Willie Cauley-Stein (So.)
Reserves: Dakari Johnson (Fr.)
Out of the four freshmen currently in Lexington, I'm most confident (and excited) in Cauley-Stein's return.
There is, of course, a slim chance that Nerlens Noel returns to play another year. If he does, he would start over Cauley-Stein.
It is more likely that WCS and Johnson will be the two centers on the Kentucky roster. Any power forward on the roster could play center as well, but Kentucky is set with these two down low.
There is a chance that Johnson starts over Cauley-Stein. WCS was atrocious from the foul line, something that should be an edge for Johnson at the beginning of next year.
But Johnson is not a shot-blocking presence. Cauley-Stein should be the starter next year.