Kentucky Basketball: Assigning Roles to Each Player on the 2013-14 Roster
One of the biggest problems with the 2012-13 Kentucky Wildcats was that it took so long for many of the players to find their roles. It could also be argued that many never did.
With this year's talent-loaded team looking to return UK to the Final Four, one of John Calipari's top concerns will have to be quickly identifying and molding roles for the entire roster.
The following is a look at what each player's role could potentially be on the 2013-14 University of Kentucky basketball team.
Andrew Harrison: Floor Leader
As physically gifted and talented as Ryan Harrow is, it became very apparent early on that his soft-spoken nature (and, at times, timid play) made it very hard for the Wildcats to properly run their offense.
Andrew Harrison is a phenomenal player, but the main thing Calipari will want from him is a willingness to direct traffic and vocally lead his teammates on the floor.
Aaron Harrison: Go-to Scorer
It may be a lot to ask of a true freshman, but Aaron Harrison's talent and very high basketball IQ will make him more than capable of being the Wildcats' go-to scorer.
Last year's squad never really seemed to know who would carry the scoring load on any given night. This year's team will have plenty of players that can go on hot streaks, but it should be Harrison that consistently is called upon as the first option.
Kyle Wiltjer: Veteran Presence
This one might seem obvious, but during his sophomore campaign Wiltjer took a while to finally start playing like someone that had a year in Calipari's system.
Now in his junior season, Wiltjer has seen the best of times and the worst of times. He's been through the ringer and will (hopefully) emerge as a calming veteran presence on the Wildcats' roster, which is filled with a plethora of young and raw talent.
Dakari Johnson: Rebounding Monster
Dakari Johnson is a decent scoring threat, but where he really excels is rebounding and defending the lane.
He will undoubtedly have to deal with unfair comparisons to Nerlens Noel and Anthony Davis. Wildcat fans should expect to see a player that by the end of his time at Kentucky will have rightfully earned his own spot as one of the best defensive centers to come through the program.
Willie Cauley-Stein: Nasty Lane Dominator
While my description of Willie Cauley-Stein's role this year might sound like the name of a bad '90s cover band, it's also a compliment.
Cauley-Stein brings a great edge and toughness that is desperately needed on such a young team. With his ability to play great defense and create offense underneath, it looks like Cauley-Stein's raw talent will really shine as he becomes a polished player.
Julius Randle: Inside Muscle
Julius Randle has a good offensive game, but, much like Dakari Johnson, he excels at grabbing boards and playing defense in the post.
Look for him and Johnson to form a lethal defensive frontcourt that will be a huge obstacle for opposing offenses. He will also combine with Willie-Cauley Stein to help give the Wildcats physical inside scoring.
Alex Poythress: Explosive Scorer off the Bench
Poythress never came close to reaching his full potential last season, but he did show flashes of it that were absolutely spectacular.
His ability to shoot from inside and slash inside—along with his size and speed—will hopefully combine with a year of experience to create a standout veteran that can come off the bench and give the Wildcats an injection of offense.
James Young: Inside-Outside Scoring Threat
James Young can score from inside and outside, making the small forward a deadly threat from the wings.
Jon Hood: Veteran Bench Player
Even with so many young players on this year's roster, Jon Hood may finally have a chance to become an integral part of John Calipari's rotation.
As one of the team's two seniors who will see playing time, he will be able to help the true freshmen get settled and acclimated to Calipari's offense and provide a deadly outside shooting threat off the bench.
Marcus Lee: Defensive Specialist
Much like Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee excels at rebounding and locking down his opponents. With so many scorers already on the team, Lee should stake his claim as a shut-down player against opposing frontcourts.
Jarrod Polson: Mentor
It may be hard for Polson to find much playing time, but he can help his team immensely by mentoring Andrew Harrison.
The senior has plenty of experience in John Calipari's system that he can pass on to the young point guard to help him succeed.
Derek Willis: Muscle off the Bench
Derek Willis may not be receiving the same fanfare as the other players in the freshman class, but he can still be a valuable contributor.
In addition to having an outstanding offensive game, Willis isn't afraid of contact, which makes him a great bench option when the Wildcats need to get more physical on the inside.
Dominique Hawkins: Learner
Being a point guard on a team with Andrew Harrison would normally mean a virtually permanent seat on the bench. But Dominique Hawkins' ability to play the two-guard spot means that he could enjoy decent minutes during his freshman season.
He should also use this season as a chance to learn and grow so that he is ready to help lead the Wildcats going forward.