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Kentucky Basketball: Freshman Class Proving Its Capable of National Title Run

LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 19:  Julius Randle #30 of the Kentucky Wildcats  shoots the ball while defended by Anthony Walker #44 of the Texas-Arlington Mavericks during the game at Rupp Arena on November 19, 2013 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IINovember 20, 2013

Every year, we talk about the Kentucky Wildcats and how impressive their incoming freshmen are.  While last year's freshman class struggled, this year's appears talented enough to lead the Wildcats to another national title run.

The Wildcats are currently 4-1 with some dominating wins over smaller schools and a tough 78-74 loss to the Michigan State Spartans, who are now ranked No. 1 in the country.  Their most recent win came on Tuesday, winning 105-76 over Texas-Arlington.

From what we've seen in their first five games, the freshmen have already proven that they're capable of leading the team to a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

It all starts with Julius Randle, who has the chance to be the first player taken in the NBA draft in June.  He's had a double-double in all five games to start the year, averaging 20.8 points and 13.4 rebounds per game.  He's shooting 61.1 percent from the field and is shooting an average of over 10 free throws per game, shooting 71.7 percent from the charity stripe.

Randle brings a dominating presence down low that the Wildcats simply didn't have after Nerlens Noel went down with a torn ACL last season.  With this young freshman down low, the Wildcats can confidently bring the ball inside and he can find ways to keep scoring and grabbing rebounds.

James Young is making a big name for himself as well, scoring 26 points and making five of his 10 three-pointers in the team's last win.  He's now scoring 14.1 points per game and is finding his shot from behind the arc.  While there are plenty of scorers on Kentucky, having a player with a long-range game creates opportunities to put up big numbers and open the floor up for other players, especially down low.

Of course, when talking about electric freshmen, the Harrison twins of Andrew and Aaron have to be mentioned.  Andrew Harrison is quickly becoming an effective young player running the offense at point guard.  

Andrew is averaging 1.8 assists for every turnover, which is a solid number for an incoming freshman.  He's also scoring 11 points per game while shooting nearly 50 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from behind the arc.

For Aaron Harrison, he's had a couple of tough games, but we've seen his ability to quickly pick up points in bunches.  He scored 28 points against Robert Morris, shooting 7-of-12 from the field and 4-of-7 from three.  Both Aaron and Andrew make up a very talented backcourt with some impressive size, as both are listed at 6'6''.

LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 17:  John Calipari the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats gives instructions to Andrew Harrison #5 and Aaron Harrison #2 during the game against the Robert Morris Colonials at Rupp Arena on November 17, 2013 in Lexington, Kentuck
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Other players including Marcus Lee, Derek Willis and Dakari Johnson are quickly becoming valuable players off of the bench.  None of them are putting up huge numbers, but that's because they haven't had to.  What they are doing, however, is giving the Wildcats a lot more depth than they had during the 2012-2013 season.

Every freshman player on this team provides something different, and a number of them are already playing at a very high level.  While a few of these players will likely be leaving after their first year to go to the NBA, John Calipari has a loaded roster to work with right now, and that will make it much easier for the Wildcats to make an incredibly deep tournament run in March and April.

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