Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: Preview of 2014 McDonald's All-American Game
Wednesday night's McDonald's All-American Game in Chicago will shine the spotlight on the latest terrific recruiting class that the Kentucky Wildcats will bring in next season.
All four of the players that have committed to join up with John Calipari's team will be showcased in the annual event that features the best of the best in high school basketball.
With those four players stepping on to the national stage, it is time to take a peek at what all four can bring to the table.
Here is a breakdown of the four players that will be headed to Kentucky later this year and what each of the incoming freshmen brings to the table.
Karl Towns will enter Lexington with an advantage over his other three classmates, since he has played under Calipari for the Dominican Republic national team over the last two summers.
The center from St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, NJ brings with him plenty of size, which is an attribute that most players on the Wildcats roster already possess.
Despite the depth in the size department this season, Kentucky may lose some of it depending on who declares for the NBA draft.
Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee are the two paint players with the highest chance of coming back next season, but Towns will head into the 2014-15 season with an edge over the two because of his versatility.
Towns has the ability to sneak out past the three-point line and drain a few shots, which is a quality that could cause plenty of trouble to Kentucky's opponents next season.
The one knock on the big man is his prowess on the glass, which may be lacking a bit because of his all-around play on the offensive end.
On Wednesday night, Towns will be one of two seven-footers on the East roster. The other is Myles Turner, who has yet to commit to a school, but he could end up in Lexington if the right situation presents itself.
With that in mind, if Towns and Turner hit the court at the same time, it could be a preview of what a stacked frontcourt could look like for Kentucky next season.
Trey Lyles of Arsenal Technical High School in Indiana will appear for the West team at power forward.
Lyles stands at 6'9", and he is the better pure paint presence of the two big men that will call Rupp Arena home next season.
The latest Canadian to link up with a college basketball powerhouse brings with him a good post game on the offensive end and plenty of length on defense.
We saw in the Sweet 16 game against Louisville that length on the defensive side of the ball could turn out to be key, as Julius Randle affected the attempted buzzer-beater by Russ Smith.
With the likes of Willie Cauley-Stein, Randle and Johnson all flirting with the NBA at the moment, Lyles could end up becoming a crucial part of the Wildcats frontcourt in his first collegiate season.
Lyles could easily fill the rebounding void left by any departing big men, and he will also be able to combine well with Towns as the duo could form the new 1-2 punch in Lexington.
He will also have the advantage of playing with guards Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis in practice, and in the game, to get a feel for how the two Kentucky commits will play in the backcourt.
Tyler Ulis is the only player that will dress in a West team uniform on Wednesday that is listed under six feet.
The 5'9" guard from Marian Catholic High School in Matteson, IL makes up for what he lacks in the size department with his terrific speed.
It is highly likely that Ulis will be the main distributor in the Kentucky offense next season if the Harrison twins end up leaving for the professional ranks.
As is the case with most small guards, Ulis brings a tough mentality to the court as he compensates for his height with grit that few guards at the prep level contain.
However, Ulis' size will be his biggest disadvantage at the next level, especially because of his 150-pound build.
There is no doubt that Ulis will have to bulk up throughout the summer to deal with the rough play he will see in his freshman season at Kentucky.
If he is able to do that, Ulis could potentially be a star in the backcourt, but his role is dependent on the status of the Harrison twins for the 2014-15 campaign.
The other guard committed to Kentucky that will play for the West team at the United Center is Moss Point High School's Devin Booker.
Booker, who is measured at 6'6" and 205 pounds, already has the body to deal with the rigors of the collegiate game, which puts him a step ahead of Ulis.
Booker may also be the more complete player of the two guards as he contains a high basketball IQ and is a big-time three-point threat.
The guard will most likely fit into the lineup on the wing, and he is not expected to be the main ball handler.
If the Harrison twins do return to Kentucky, the pair could form one of the best backcourts in the country along with Booker.
While he does have a strong skill set for a wing player, Booker does not have the speed that Ulis or the Harrisons have in their game.
The good news for Booker is that his lack of speed shouldn't play to his disadvantage because there are other players on the Kentucky roster that can provide that.
With that being said, it will be interesting to see how Booker combines with Ulis on Wednesday night with the possibility of the Harrison twins going pro increasing each day due to their performances in the NCAA tournament.
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