Kentucky Basketball: One Prediction for Each Wildcats Starter
Through its first two games of the 2013-14 season, Kentucky has lived up to its No. 1 ranking.
While the Wildcats dismantled both UNC Asheville and Northern Kentucky, fans of the Wildcats were treated to the gift that is Julius Randle and the somewhat-surprise-to-see Alex Poythress start the season as the sixth man.
Assuming the lineup from the first two games stays the same, we'll take a look at one prediction for each starter of the 203-14 Kentucky basketball team.
Andrew Harrison: Wins the Bob Cousy Award
Andrew Harrison has stiff competition for the Bob Cousy award this season, which is given to the best point guard in the country. He also has history against him, as no freshman has ever won the award since it began in the 2003-04 season.
While it may be Marcus Smart's award to lose, you could make a strong case that Harrison has more to do as a point guard for Kentucky than Smart at Oklahoma State. With eight players expected to see serious minutes and all being high school phenoms, it will be up to Harrison to distribute the ball evenly.
That includes getting shots for himself.
Smart, on the other hand, is required to score more while keeping less players happy for the Cowboys. What will secure the award for Harrison is his team's record while combined with the gift of having a plethora of talent around him.
If Harrison uses his incredible basketball IQ to balance when to pass and when to attack, not only will the Bob Cousy Award be coming to Kentucky, but Harrison will make history.
Aaron Harrison : Lead the Wildcats in Three-Point Shooting
Aaron Harrison has quickly become the forgotten McDonald's All-American in Kentucky's starting lineup. With his brother Andrew, Julius Randle and James Young stealing the headlines, Aaron Harrison has quietly worked on his own game.
Harrison has averaged 13 points per game after the first two challenges. However, he has only shot 25 percent from behind the three-point line. He's been effective from the field in general, though, shooting 50 percent, while also averaging 2.5 steals and three rebounds per game.
However, with Andrew Harrison's ability to penetrate and Randle commanding double teams in the paint, it will be up to Aaron Harrison to knock down the open three.
While it has been a slow start from behind the arc for Aaron, there is no doubt he will be more comfortable with his stroke and lead Kentucky in three-point percentage.
James Young: First Team Freshmen All-American
The 6'7" James Young can do it all. Whether it's drive and finish at the rim with a thunderous dunk or show his smooth jumper from deep, Young will be a mismatch no matter who is guarding him.
He's not a one-dimensional player, either. Young is expected to be the best perimeter defender the Wildcats have this season and has the ability to guard three or four positions.
Young has gotten off to what could be considered a slow start for Kentucky, averaging just eight points per game while shooting under 28 percent from the field. However, there has been signs of Young's ability to take over the game and attack offensively.
While teammate Randle makes a case for National Freshman of the Year alongside Andrew Wiggins, Young could quietly be an easy pick for First Team Freshmen All-American.
Julius Randle: National Player of the Year
Julius Randle has had the hype since he committed to Kentucky during the offseason. An unstoppable force at the rim with the ability to handle the ball and hit a mid-range jumper, his offensive game is supposed to be off the charts.
Through his first two games, he has lived up to all the hype. Averaging 22 points and over 14 rebounds per game, Randle is putting up numbers that college basketball hasn't seen since Michael Beasley.
Despite the gaudy numbers, Randle and John Calipari both believe he hasn't played to the best of his ability, which is a scary thought. He could realistically put up a 30 point, 20 rebound game, and no one would bat an eye.
Coupled with the gift of an incredible point guard in Andrew Harrison and teammates around him that all can score, Randle should be in plenty of one-on-one situations this season. He should be taking advantage of this by putting up lofty scoring numbers and garnering plenty of awards.
One of the awards will be the coveted National Player of the Year. Also helping Randle's case is the fact Kentucky is currently, and expected to stay, at No. 1 in the country for most of the year.
Willie Cauley-Stein: Average Two Steals Per Game
Through Kentucky's first two games, Willie Cauley-Stein has averaged two steals per game, a number that shouldn't surprise Kentucky fans.
Cauley-Stein is an athletic, 7-foot center that often takes chances defensively, which results in turnovers more often than not. He will never be remembered as a great defender like Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel, but he can make his name in a different way.
With the ability to switch on screens and stay in front of other guards, Cauley-Stein will get steals by recovering to his man and making the opposing center take a dribble before going for the swipe.
Much like last year, Cauley-Stein will have to stay out of foul trouble. He has only averaged 19 minutes per game through the first two games and was in foul trouble early against UNC Asheville. If he can stay on the floor, Cauley-Stein will secure his legacy as one of the better defending big men in Kentucky's storied history.