Who will Kentucky finally land in 2012?
That is the question currently lingering on every Kentucky fan's mind as the weeks pass by and more and more recruits decide their college destinations.
The Wildcats are set to have a mass exodus of talent to the NBA draft after the upcoming season, making it imperative that they restock on quality talent in 2012. There are still plenty of players to be had, but it is crucial that Kentucky doesn't miss on too many of their key targets.
Here is a list of five recruits that Kentucky must land in order to turn 2012 into a reloading year instead of a rebuilding year.
Willie Cauley may not be a player whom fans are currently salivating over, but he would represent a key cog to a successful 2012 recruiting class.
He is a 6'11", 210-lbs true center who specializes on the defensive end.
Although he is pretty raw offensively, he possesses great shot-blocking and rebounding.
These skills would be especially useful to Kentucky, as the team is projected to lose three of its four big men (Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones and Eloy Vargas).
Ideally, Kentucky will sign one of the higher-ranked centers in the class, but that still leaves room for a guy like Cauley.
Cauley would be a fantastic pickup, primarily because he will likely stick around for three to four years. While he will need some time to develop into a complete player, he can also come in and contribute right away as a quality defensive presence off the bench.
Besides Kentucky, Cauley's list of schools includes Kansas, Kansas State, Florida and Alabama.
Alex Poythress' combination of versatility and hustle make him a must-get for Kentucky.
Kentucky will definitely be losing Darius Miller after next season and may also be without Terrence Jones and Michael Gilchrist.
Although he can only play one position at a time, Poythress is capable of filling the void left by any of these three players.
At 6'7", he has enough size to play the four, but he also has the ball-handling skill and athleticism to fill in at the three.
He is one of those players who can do a little bit of everything on the court. He can handle the ball and shoot from the perimeter, or he can move inside and post up his defender.
Most importantly, he is a tenacious defender. He has the quickness to guard on the ball but also enough length to be disruptive around the basket.
Kentucky will likely be left with a number of holes to fill next offseason, and Poythress has the versatility to fill more than one.
Poythress' list of schools currently stands at just five: Duke, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Florida and Memphis. The biggest obstacle Kentucky will face is prying him away from Duke.
With Darius Miller graduating and Doron Lamb possibly leaving for the NBA draft, Kentucky will desperately need to add some athleticism and scoring talent from the wing.
Archie Goodwin could be just the guy they need.
Goodwin is a premier scorer, primarily because of his ability to penetrate the lane and attack the basket, making him an ideal fit for Calipari's dribble-drive offense.
At around 6'5", he also has the versatility to slide over to small forward if needed, a valuable asset, especially if they manage to land Shabazz Muhammad.
He plays extremely hard on the defensive end and is capable of shutting down a team's best perimeter scorer.
Goodwin has said that he is very high on Kentucky, and many people believe that UK may be his favorite. If Kentucky were to lose out on Goodwin, it would be a major disappointment.
There are other guards in the class that the coaching staff could pursue, but they would come with either a considerable risk or a considerable drop-off in talent.
If Kentucky fans have learned anything over the past couple of years, it's that three-point shooting is an essential ingredient to any successful team.
The potential loss of both Darius Miller and Doron Lamb after next season would eliminate most of Kentucky's perimeter offense.
Fortunately, landing T.J. Warren would give them another premier three-point threat.
Warren is a big-time scorer, who specializes in knocking down three-pointers.
He isn't an elite athlete, but he also isn't one-dimensional. He has developed a reliable mid-range game and can score in a variety of ways.
If he is surrounded by good athletes, he can put up points in bunches.
Given the fact that he isn't a premier athlete, he is also probably a guy who will stick around in college for a few years, making him a worthwhile long-term investment.
He is still considering a number of schools, but the fact that he will be in attendance at Big Blue Madness is a positive sign for Kentucky.
Shabazz Muhammad represents the crème de la crème when it comes to the 2012 recruits.
Even before the departure of Andre Drummond, Muhammad had well established himself as the top recruit in the country.
Now, it may seem outlandish to say that the top recruit in the country is a must-get for any team, no less Kentucky, but hear me out.
It's no mystery that Kentucky is going to lose not only a lot of talent after next season, but also depth and experience.
Very few things can surpass depth and experience in college basketball.
Kentucky will be face to face with this fact in 2012. The best chance the Wildcats have of overcoming this deficit is to land a supreme, game-changing talent.
Most of the top guys in the 2012 class are talented, but they are more likely to be on the role-player end of the spectrum rather than the game-changer end—at least at first.
Muhammad represents the closest thing to a game-changer in this year's class.
We have seen a few transcendent young talents in years past who were able to carry their team on a run through the NCAA tournament—Carmelo Anthony comes to mind immediately. Well, Muhammad has the chance to be that same type of player.
The rest of the players that Kentucky lands in 2012 should build a solid foundation, but Muhammad could be the player that pushes them over the edge as a serious championship contender.