Kentucky Basketball: Predicting Wildcats' Biggest Overachievers for 2014

Bobby ReaganFeatured ColumnistJune 3, 2013

Kentucky Basketball: Predicting Wildcats' Biggest Overachievers for 2014

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    It's hard to believe anyone on Kentucky's 2013-14 basketball roster could be considered an overachiever, with a lineup full of McDonald's All-Americans. 

    But that's exactly the case. Not everyone in Lexington is expected to put up incredible numbers, and this slideshow will take a look at the three players who will outdo our expectations. 

    Sure, this team is projected to be great, but that can only happen if there is a balance in stats and players stepping up when needed to. 

    Let's take a look at the three players who will have a better year than most people think. 

Dominique Hawkins

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    Dominique Hawkins will battle senior Jarrod Polson for the backup point guard role next season. However, there is a strong chance Hawkins will enter the preseason third on the depth chart.

    Hawkins, who won Mr. Basketball in Kentucky this past season, will be given a chance to compete in practice against Polson and Andrew Harrison to earn minutes this season. There's no doubt that when he gets on the court, he will be better than expected.

    In high school, Hawkins played more as off-guard, but due to his 6'1" size, he will most likely be moved to point guard in Calipari's system. He is an athletic player who got most of his points in high school by slashing to the rim, however he has a strong outside jumper to make him tough to guard at any level. 

James Young

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    James Young might be the most forgotten-about No. 8 recruit in the nation of all time. Young is expected to compete with Alex Poythress for the starting small forward position, but don't be surprised to see Young as the first guy off the bench.

    As someone who could start at almost any other school in the country, Young is a special type of player. He is an elite rebounder for his size and position, grabbing over 15 rebounds in six out of eight games to start his senior year. 

    Young has the ability to defend three positions, as well. It will be tough to keep Young off the floor in late-game situations due to his shooting coupled with his defensive strengths. 

    Don't be surprised to see Kentucky fans clamoring to see more of Young as the season goes on. 

Kyle Wiltjer

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    Wiltjer was expected to have a breakout season during his sophomore campaign, but much like Kentucky's season, it didn't go as expected. That's not to say Wiltjer didn't have a successful year, though. 

    Wiltjer was named the SEC's Sixth Man of the Year by averaging over 10 points per game and shooting over 42 percent from the field during the 2012-13 season. Sure, he didn't live up to the high expectations people had for him, but those aren't bad numbers by any means.

    Not to mention that was with a roster that is nowhere near as talented as the one he will be playing with in 2013-14. His minutes will be down due to sharing the court with fellow McDonald's All-Americans Marcus Lee, Julius Randle and Dakari Johnson. 

    However, with better talent around him, defenses can't key in on Wiltjer's ability to shoot it from behind the arc. Opposing teams will have to respect the other players and will often leave Wiltjer to play one-on-one with his man, and that is something Kentucky coach John Calipari will take all of the time. 

    With his wide array of post moves and ability to shoot it from deep, expect Wiltjer to be a key contributor and scoring threat for the Wildcats.