Kentucky Basketball: Julius Randle's Addition Builds SEC Arms Race

Mike ShiekmanFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2013

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Julius Randle’s commitment (per to the Kentucky Wildcats signifies not only NCAA prominence for Big Blue, but also an arms race unfolding in the Southeastern Conference.

Yes, an arms race can happen in college basketball too.

John Calipari is pulling together another legendary recruiting class, but his conference counterparts are getting richer as well. In particular, the Florida Gators will be dueling with the Wildcats for SEC supremacy.

Before we get into the players who will most certainly be joining Randle in SEC play next season, let’s not forget the notable names who have yet to declare for the NBA draft.

Kentucky’s Archie Goodwin, Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress will likely be first-round picks in June's draft, but that may not be enough to leave a potential NCAA tournament run next season. Goodwin and Cauley-Stein in particular could be lottery picks after solid workouts, so it’s not far-fetched to see them leaving.

Alongside Randle, who is rated as the second-best class of 2013 prospect in the country according to 247Sports' composite rankings, Andrew and Aaron Harrison could prove to be the star-studded backcourt that a Calipari team usually boasts.

On Florida’s end, Patric Young hasn’t had the dominant season that many scouts had anticipated, so it may serve him well to stay another year and work on his offensive game.

The Gators will certainly return three rotation players, including starter Scottie Wilbekin, who will go along with two top-flight transfers in Dorian Finney-Smith and Damontre Harris.

In fact, these aren’t just run-of-the-mill transfers looking for new scenery. Harris, a former South Carolina standout, finished SEC All-Defense as a sophomore. Finney-Smith was named to the All-ACC freshman team after averaging more than seven rebounds at forward.

While Calipari's and Billy Donovan’s squads have been and will continue to be the class of the SEC, LSU has also been quietly assembling an impressive recruiting class.

Coach Johnny Jones has snagged the best player in-state, 247Sports' 5-star prospect Jarrell Martin, to be the crown jewel of his 2013 class. Add in two more quality signings in Jordan Mickey and Tim Quarterman, along with a couple of JUCO transfers, and Jones has a squad prime to make noise in a top-heavy conference.

Kentucky has gotten its crown jewel of 2013 with Julius Randle, but the SEC arms race is only beginning.

Hold onto your hats, SEC fans.


Mike Shiekman is a Breaking News Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow his sports musings and random life observations on Twitter.