Kentucky Basketball: Position-by-Position Breakdown of Wildcats in 2015-16

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistOctober 15, 2015

Kentucky Basketball: Position-by-Position Breakdown of Wildcats in 2015-16

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    The 2015-16 edition of the Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team will look a lot different than the squad that made a terrific run to the Final Four last season.

    Head coach John Calipari will be forced to coach more this season as he deals with less depth at each position. At times, we could see Calipari use as few as six players in a contest, but that total will probably be around eight for most games.

    The five projected starters are expected to contribute most of the numbers required to have a successful season, but the Wildcats will need help from some of their bench players to win certain games, depending on the situation. 

    Here's a position-by-position look at the 2015-16 Kentucky Wildcats. 

Point Guard

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    Starter: Tyler Ulis

    Backup: Dominique Hawkins

    Tyler Ulis will be the floor general for the Wildcats during the 2015-16 season, and given his production last season, he will be one of the team's main contributors. 

    Ulis is one of many strong ball-handlers in the Kentucky backcourt, but he is the best of the lot and will earn the majority of the time at point guard.

    Dominique Hawkins is a natural point guard, but he may not see a ton of time off the bench if Calipari wants to rotate Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe over to the point when Ulis needs a rest. 

    Out of the freshman pair, Briscoe would be the better fit to slide over to the point so Murray can remain in his role as one of the team's top scorers. 

Shooting Guard

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    Starter: Isaiah Briscoe

    Backups: Mychal Mulder, Charles Matthews 

    Freshman Isaiah Briscoe is expected to start alongside Ulis in the loaded Kentucky backcourt that contains a plethora of talent. 

    The first-year player from New Jersey may not be relied upon to put up big numbers in the points department every game, but he will be asked to do plenty of other little things right in order to round the Wildcats into a complete squad. 

    Mychal Mulder will provide the Wildcats with some points from beyond the arc if he gets on the court. The same can be said about freshman Charles Matthews, who will be fighting for minutes as a substitute. 

Small Forward

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    James Crisp/Associated Press

    Starter: Jamal Murray

    Backups: Mychal Mulder, Charles Matthews

    We list this position as small forward for the sake of covering all the regular positions in a starting five, but this will realistically be a spot for a third guard this year for Kentucky. 

    Jamal Murray will fill the role of the third guard, and because of the rotation Calipari is expected to play, he may be the only one earning consistent time at the position.

    Mulder and Matthews could be seen as reserves at this position, but there is also a chance Calipari could go big with the lineup at points and put a third big man like Marcus Lee or Derek Willis here as well. 

Power Forward

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    Starter: Alex Poythress

    Backups: Derek Willis, Marcus Lee, Isaac Humphries 

    Senior Alex Poythress will be one of the few players with experience at the college level in the starting lineup to start the season. 

    The forward missed most of his junior year with an injury, and he is looking to make an impact during his final year in Lexington alongside some talented freshmen.

    Just like we mentioned before in the Murray slide, there may not be many other players who earn significant playing time because of Calipari's rotation.

    Derek Willis could be an option off the bench as a true power forward if Calipari wants to hand him minutes. However, this spot on the court could also go to Marcus Lee or Isaac Humphries while either Poythress or Skal Labissiere rests. 

Center

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    Starter: Skal Labissiere

    Backups: Marcus Lee, Isaac Humphries

    Skal Labissiere enters his freshman season at Kentucky as one of the best players in the country and a favorite to be selected first overall in the 2016 NBA draft. 

    Labissiere should end up being the team's top rebounder, and he will challenge Murray and Briscoe for the title of top scorer on the Kentucky roster. 

    As for who sits behind him on the depth chart, Lee and Humphries have the height to disrupt opponents in the paint in spurts, but neither compares to Labissiere when it comes to pure talent. 

    The only time Labissere and Poythress will be off the court at the same time this season is if both are injured or are in foul trouble. 

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