Kentucky Basketball: What Will John Calipari Do with All the Returning Players?
Tough decisions await John Calipari and the Kentucky basketball program. There are 13 scholarships available for next season, and there will be more than 13 players on the roster.
Willie Cauley-Stein, Archie Goodwin, Ryan Harrow, Alex Poythress and Kyle Wiltjer are all candidates to declare for the 2013 NBA draft or transfer to another school.
As ESPN's Andy Katz points out in his 3-point shot, the 2012-13 Wildcats "underachieved," meaning some "roster changes are possible." This hints at Calipari and Kentucky forcing some players out to ensure scholarship positions for the 2013 recruiting class.
The 2013 recruiting class, after all, is incredible. All seven recruits have been guaranteed scholarships for next season and that doesn't look like it will change.
Which leaves six scholarships available for the 2013-14 season. Three of those holes could be filled with recruits from the 2013 class: Andrew Wiggins, Aaron Gordon and Dominique Hawkins.
Kentucky fans should feel comfortable in landing at least one of those prospects.
Wiggins seems like a perfect fit, and most people around the program are still confident in Kentucky's chances to land the top prospect.
A reliable birdie just whispered in my ear that Cal, KP, J. Robic, Big O & Strick aren't quite finished w this '13 class. #BBNMayJustWigOut— Rex Chapman (@rexchapman) March 21, 2013
Although Hawkins has not received a scholarship, it seems like he may land one in the near future. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Calipari was in Richmond, Ky., to see Hawkins on Mar. 26.
Let's say Kentucky lands just one of these final three players. That means there are only five scholarships remaining for returnees.
Cauley-Stein, Goodwin, Harrow, Poythress and Wiltjer could make up those five. But that would leave Jarrod Polson and Jon Hood as walk-ons.
This isn't even considering the fact that Nerlens Noel could return. His return would knock another player out of a scholarship position.
If everyone but Noel stays, and they all have said they will, Katz' idea of a roster change is realistic. The University of Kentucky, however, shot down speculation on the future of returning players.
Hood has been a scholarship player for his entire collegiate career. Polson started out as a walk-on and earned a scholarship in his second year. Both are Kentucky natives and deserve to keep their scholarship.
So who leaves? What should Calipari do?
Cauley-Stein proved his worth during the 2012-13 season. He provided energy and effort when so many of his teammates did not. Unless his talks with his family and Calipari change things, WCS will stay.
Goodwin, Harrow, Poythress and Wiltjer are different. All four had questionable effort during the 2012-13 season. Talented as they are, Calipari voiced his frustration with these players during the season.
Check the tape: Goodwin improved towards the end of the year. He'll likely keep his scholarship, should he decide to stay.
Harrow, on the other hand, seems least likely of the quartet to keep his scholarship. If Hawkins needs a scholarship, I would give him Harrow's.
Poythress and Wiltjer should stay in school, and they may benefit from smaller roles in the Kentucky offense. If both stay, however, they'd be taking a scholarship from Hood or Polson.
Calipari has a wealth of talent at his disposal next season. Which players make up that talent pool, however, is to be determined.
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