Kentucky Basketball: Grades for Wildcats' Freshmen at Quarter Mark in 2013-14

Bobby ReaganFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2013

Kentucky Basketball: Grades for Wildcats' Freshmen at Quarter Mark in 2013-14

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    Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Spor

    Heading into the 2013-14 season, Kentucky basketball and head coach John Calipari had one of the, if not the most impressive freshman class coming to Lexington. 

    Six players in the class were McDonald's All-American's, and four of those players were ranked as the best player at their position, including Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Dakari Johnson and Julius Randle. 

    Read on to see the grades for the seven freshmen who have seen significant playing time through a quarter of the season for Kentucky. 

Marcus Lee: Incomplete

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    Marcus Lee, one of the six McDonald's All-Americans in the class, hasn't been able to get on the floor due to a crowded frontcourt; therefore, his grade is incomplete.

    Lee is only playing eight minutes per game so far this season, but averaging four points and two rebounds per game. He hasn't played more than 12 minutes in the past five games, but in 12 minutes against Texas-Arlington, he scored 10 points and recorded three blocks. 

    As the season goes on, we'll see if Lee gets anymore playing time, but this grade will probably carry over until next season. 

Dominique Hawkins: A

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    Dominique Hawkins entered the season as a no-name expected backup point guard who would only see the floor during blowouts or severe foul trouble.

    However, in just eight games, Hawkins has transformed into a viable backup point guard, and now John Calipari isn't afraid to insert Hawkins in close games. The Kentucky native has been one of the better defensive players on the team and a spark plug off the bench.

    He's played in every game and is playing an average of 11 minutes but only scoring two points per game. However, he's embraced the role of point guard and is adding to an already deep bench for the Wildcats. 

Dakari Johnson: D

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    Dakari Johnson entered the season as the top-rated center in the class of 2013 and a possible contender to start over Willie Cauley-Stein.

    However, Johnson has yet to adapt to the college game, often getting in foul trouble when he sees significant minutes. He is playing less than 11 minutes per game and averaging five points and four rebounds. 

    Until Johnson becomes more consistent and can garner more playing time, he has to be considered a bust so far in the 2013-14 season. 

James Young: C

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    James Young might have been the most hyped freshman for Kentucky when NBA scouts began to call him the best player in the country during early-season practices. However, he has had an up-and-down season to start his freshman year.

    Young is currently third on the team in scoring, averaging 13 points per game. But, he has struggled to consistently find his shot so far this season. He also showed his weakness defensively when Michigan State constantly beat him in transition and attacked the rim on him.

    There's no reason to think Young won't turn into a consistent player for Kentucky, but for right now, that has held him from being the great player NBA scouts expected him to be. 

Aaron Harrison: B+

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Aaron Harrison was quickly the forgotten recruit of this class, which is tough to do as a top-10 recruit. But, when you join the likes of your twin brother Andrew, Julius Randle and James Young, it's quick for fans to forget how great of a player you can be.

    Aaron Harrison made sure to remind Kentucky fans, especially in the past couple of games when he showed the diversity of his game by scoring and locking down defensively. 

    Harrison is averaging just under 14 points per game and three rebounds but scored 22 and 15 in Kentucky's past two games. Against Providence, Harrison also helped Kentucky blow open the game by shutting down Providence star Bryce Cotton. 

    Harrison is quickly turning into a star, and it would be no surprise if he led Kentucky in scoring by the time the season ends. 

Andrew Harrison: B-

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    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.

    Harrison has been playing above average for a first-year point guard who is playing under the scrutiny and pressure he is. He has shown the ability to take over games, like he did in Kentucky's comeback against Cleveland State by attacking the rim.

Julius Randle: A+

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Julius Randle has been the best player on Kentucky's roster and arguably the best player in the country so far this season.

    He is the one freshman in the country you could put in an NBA game tomorrow and not bat an eye at how he would compete. A combination of his size and strength has made him one of the best big men in all of college basketball. He is currently fourth in the nation, averaging 12.5 rebounds per game, and he recorded a double-double in seven of Kentucky's first eight games. 

    He has exceeded all expectations and has firmly planted himself in discussions for player of the year despite the calendar not turning to 2014 yet.