Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Lumping the Kentucky reserves into one spot on our list is a bit of a cop-out. However, it's virtually impossible to pick one player from the vast amount of talent that comes off the Wildcats' bench.
Willie Cauley-Stein and Marcus Lee have shared a starting frontcourt spot this season, with one coming off the bench while the other starts. Cauley-Stein started Kentucky's most recent game, Dec. 1 against Providence, so, technically, he is no longer a bench player. He is averaging 9.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per game despite coming off the bench in half of the Wildcats' first eight games. Lee's playing time has slipped to 8.0 minutes a game.
Freshman center Dakari Johnson and sophomore forward Alex Poythress have not started any games this season, providing scoring punch and rebounding despite their limited playing time.
Poythress was the team's second-leading scorer as a starter last season, when he averaged 11.2 points. This season he's averaging 5.4 points and 6.8 rebounds in less than 19 minutes of court time. Johnson was the nation's No. 7 overall recruit in the class of 2013, according to ESPN.com. But with Julius Randle and Cauley-Stein ahead of him, he manages fewer than 11 minutes of playing time and 5.1 points and 4.1 boards a game.
Cauley-Stein, Lee, Johnson and Poythress all figure to be playing in the NBA in the next year or two.
projects Lee, Cauley-Stein and Johnson to be first-round selections in 2015. Both NBADraft.net and DraftExpress.com expect Poythress to be an early second-round pick in 2014.
That's an enormous amount of talent to have coming off the bench.