Kentucky Basketball: Stock Watch for Wildcats Starters

Bobby ReaganFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2013

Kentucky Basketball: Stock Watch for Wildcats Starters

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Kentucky has gotten off to a fast start with a record of 7-1 in the 2013-14 season and a No. 3 ranking in the country. The Wildcats' only loss has come to now-No. 1 Michigan State. 

    John Calipari's Kentucky team is regarded as one of the most elite teams in the country this season, however that doesn't mean the Wildcats haven't taken their licks. With an extremely young team, the development and progress of each player has been different on an individual level. 

    Calipari has messed around with his starting lineup a little bit, but we will go with the most common starting five Kentucky has used this season. Read on to get a stock report for those Wildcats players. 

Andrew Harrison

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    Trending: Even

    Andrew Harrison came into the season with the pressure of being the next great John Calipari point guard, joining the likes of Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall and Brandon Knight. 

    So far, he is following the common trend of the rest of those great point guards by struggling to take control of the game early in the season. Harrison isn't putting up terrible numbers by any means, averaging over 10 points and three assists per game.

    However, you'd want to see the assists increase while his turnovers decrease, as he is averaging over two turnovers per game. Harrison is also getting himself in foul trouble often, averaging over three fouls in every game this season. 

    He had his shining moments so far this season though, leading Kentucky to a victory over a pesky Cleveland State team. Expect his stock to be high later in the season, but right now he's been steadily average. 

Aaron Harrison

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    Trending: Upward

    Aaron Harrison is starting to assert himself as one of the best scoring 2-guards in the country. His stock is currently the highest it has been so far this season after receiving SEC Freshman of the Week honors for his performances against Providence and Eastern Michigan.

    Harrison poured in 22 against Eastern Michigan and 15 against Providence. He also hauled in seven rebounds against Eastern Michigan. 

    He is second on the team in scoring, averaging nearly 14 points per game and shooting over 44 percent from the field. More importantly, he adjusted to the emphasis on the hand-check rule defensively and is transforming into Kentucky's best perimeter defender.

James Young

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Trending: Down, Then Back Up 

    James Young wowed NBA scouts in early practices and was expected to be one of the best freshmen this season. While he has shown signs of dominance, he's also struggled, scoring in single-digits and shooting poorly from the field.

    Young's athleticism always provides a spark for Kentucky as he can guard numerous positions defensively and is a mismatch for most opposing small forwards. However, he's been rocky throughout the season. Take for instance his last five games, where he scored 18, six, nine, 26 and 10, respectively.

    John Calipari has shown he's willing to stick with Young, despite when he's struggling, by playing the freshman 37 minutes against Eastern Michigan when Young scored just six points and turned it over five times.

    Much like Andrew Harrison, expect Young's stock to be soaring by the end of the year, but currently he is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Julius Randle

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Trending: Downward 

    OK, before everyone freaks out and sees Randle is trending downward, it's only because of the question: "How much higher could he trend?" He started the season off with a double-double in every game until Kentucky's victory over Providence on Sunday. 

    Randle is by no means struggling, averaging 18 points  and 12.5 rebounds per game. But, when you finally don't record a double-double, you have to be trending down, right? 

    Randle has been the best player on Kentucky's roster and arguably the best player in the country so far this season. He has exceeded all expectations and has firmly planted himself in discussions for player of the year despite the calendar not turning into 2014 yet. 

Willie Cauley-Stein

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Trending: Higher Than Any Kentucky Center Ever

    Has any center in recent memory had a better two games for his career than Willie Cauley-Stein has had? In Kentucky's last two games against Eastern Michigan and Providence, Cauley-Stein has swatted 16 shots while averaging 15 points and eight rebounds. 

    He almost recorded a triple-double against Providence, missing it by just one block. He would have been only the second person in Kentucky's storied history to complete that feat. 

    After having a slow start to the season, Cauley-Stein has exploded on the scene, becoming the perfect frontcourt partner for Julius Randle. The sophomore has been climbing the draft ranks and is expected to easily be a lottery selection in the 2014 NBA draft. 

    There might not be another player in the country right now whose stock is higher than Cauley-Stein's, and that is expected to cool off. But, for the time being, put all your money and invest it in Willie Cauley-Stein.