Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: 2014 Class Ensures Tournament Berth Next Season

Jesse Reed@@JesseReed78Correspondent IApril 3, 2013

h/t Kentucky.com
h/t Kentucky.com

Kentucky basketball won't experience another letdown in 2014, as John Calipari's recruiting class is loaded with talented players who will get the program back to the NCAA tournament. 

One year removed from dominating the competition en route to the program's first national championship since 1998, Kentucky wasn't even invited to the tourney in 2013. 

To add insult to injury, Kentucky then lost in the opening round of the National Invitational Tournament to Robert Morris.

Don't expect a repeat performance next season. 

The recruiting class Calipari has assembled won't allow it to happen. 

According to Ben Roberts of the Lexington Herald-Leader, via Kentucky.com, the six incoming freshmen at the McDonald's All-American Game are raring to go:

Based on what Calipari's six McDonald's All-Americans have been saying this week, the UK coach will have his hands full during next season's practices, which are already being billed as knock-down, drag-out auditions for playing time among a young bunch of highly motivated players with through-the-roof expectations.

Roberts goes on to report that players actually expect fights to occur during practice, due to the level of competitiveness of the players and due to the fact that the level of overall talent on the roster is so high:

UK's 2013-14 roster could easily include 10 players that could start for a vast majority of Division I programs. Of course, only five can start for the Wildcats next season.

At this time, there are seven recruits committed to Kentucky, per ESPN.com. Of those seven, four are ESPN's top-ranked recruit for the position they play:

  • Julius Randle: No. 1-ranked power forward.
  • Andrew Harrison: No. 1-ranked point guard.
  • Aaron Harrison: No. 1-ranked shooting guard.
  • Dakari Johnson: No. 1-ranked center.

Dave Telep of ESPN.com's RecruitingNation writes, "This is already the best recruiting class ever on paper, so anything else would be just gravy."

At this point, the only thing standing in the way of Kentucky storming back for another run at a national championship will be the players not selling out for one another once the season begins. 

Talent doesn't win on its own. Once practice is over and the games begin, these young men will need to put aside their competitive differences toward each other and focus on their opponents. 

That said, the Wildcats will be hard to beat in 2014 if the players can come together and work as a team.

Nothing in life is guaranteed, but Kentucky won't miss out on the tournament next year. If anything, they'll likely head into the 2014 NCAA tourney as a No. 1 seed and a heavy favorite to win the entire thing.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78