Kentucky Basketball: What Each Projected Starter Brings to the Table

Bobby ReaganSenior Analyst IIMarch 27, 2017

Kentucky Basketball: What Each Projected Starter Brings to the Table

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    Kentucky has one of the most star-studded lineups in all of college basketball this year. They are one of the few teams that don't need to worry about the media talking about its players, due to the number of McDonald's All-Americans and future NBA players on the roster.

    However, what all of these players bring to the table while in Lexington are still somewhat unknown. Who will lead the team in scoring? Who will be the go-to player? Who will be the leader?

    These are all questions that will be answered as the season goes forward, but for now we'll take a crack trying to figure out what each of the five projected starters bring with them to Lexington.


Willie Cauley-Stein: Intensity

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    Willie Cauley-Stein is going to play his heart out every moment he is on the floor. It may lead to foul trouble and some bone-headed plays by being too aggressive, but it will also lead to extra possessions and points on putback dunks.

    The big man showed last year he is willing to sacrifice his body for the team in order to keep the ball for an extra 35 seconds. 

    This year with a much more explosive cast around him, Cauley-Stein will only benefit more by running the floor like he did last year. Most of his points during his freshman campaign came from fast breaks and offensive rebounds. 

    This year, with a more polished game expect Cauley-Stein to look smoother on the offensive side of the ball. Defensively, expect the Kansas native to challenge every shot and battle in the post. 


Aaron Harrison: Scoring

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    Aaron Harrison can fill the bucket from anywhere on the floor. 

    The moment he steps in the gym the opponent needs to start guarding him. Whether it's attacking the rim with his 6'5" frame or drilling deep shots from behind the arc, Harrison can flat-out score. 

    Having his twin brother as his backcourt mate will only make it easier for Harrison to find the rock. The twins have played together their entire lives, and this helps make Aaron an easy target for his brother to get comfortable with.

    Because defenses have to respect his outside game, he provides a mismatch against most other guards. When an opponent respects his outside game, Harrison can simply drive to the rim or post up as a guard. He will be one of Kentucky's most effective weapons when it picks its tempo up. 

    Expect Harrison to consistently lead the Wildcats in scoring due to this. 

Alex Poythress: Versatility

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    Perhaps the biggest part of Alex Poythress' game that was overlooked last year is the fact he is a 6'9" forward that can drill a three, take someone off the dribble or post up a player.

    Last year Poythress spent most of the year at the power forward position, especially when Nerlens Noel went down with a torn ACL. This year, expect to see Poythress at his natural wing position where he can create a mismatch nightmare.

    At 6'9" with a massive wingspan, Poythress forces opposing coaches to put a smaller, quicker player on him, to which Poythress is more than comfortable taking in the paint. If the coach decides to put a true power forward on him, expect Poythress to blow by him off the dribble. 

    Without the pressure of being the star of the team, expect Poythress to get in a groove and fill the expectations that were put on him last season. 

    Poythress already has an NBA-ready body, and don't be surprised if John Calipari designs some plays solely for Poythress to take advantage of his mismatch. The Tennessee native also allows Calipari to get creative with his lineups, with the ability to play either the small or power forward positions. 

Andrew Harrison: Floor General

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    Andrew Harrison is the only true point guard on this year's roster. More importantly, it will be up to Harrison to be the leader on the team and make sure everyone stays happy while getting his own shots. 

    Expect Harrison to play a lot like John Wall did during Calipari's first year at Kentucky. At 6'5", he has the body to overpower any point guard that attempts to guard him and finish at the rim, but Harrison also has the ability to pull up and hit a jumper.

    It will be up to Harrison to be the vocal leader while on the floor and direct traffic, something that Ryan Harrow struggled with last year in Kentucky and ultimately aided in the demise of the 2012-13 season.

Julius Randle: All-American

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    Julius Randle will be the best college basketball player this year. 

    Randle is set up to be the star of stars when it comes to the loaded Kentucky roster. 

    Randle is a rare breed of a true power forward that can not only play that position but also handle the ball, shoot outside jumpers and defend multiple positions. Randle is the definition of someone who is made of brute force but can play with a finesse of a guard.

    He will be the star of this Kentucky team and the player who will draw most of the awards from this team. Randle will be the player that wants the ball in his hands when they need a basket.

    With a combination of his size and power coupled with the inability for opposing defenses to leave anyone else on the floor to double-team Randle, he will have plenty of chances to be the man in Lexington this season.