John Calipari's 2009-10 Freshmen Cast

Bowe FertigCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2009

LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 19:  Eric Bledsoe #24 and John Wall #1 of the Kentucky Wildcats stand during the game against the Sam Houston State Bearkats at Rupp Arena on November 19, 2009 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

John Calipari was brought to the program with the most wins in NCAA history because of his .765 winning percentage and his ability to recruit the nation’s best players.

Within the past two years at Memphis, Calipari shipped off the country’s top guards to the NBA draft with 2008 first-overall pick Derrick Rose and 2009 fourth-overall pick Tyreke Evans.

Heading into the NBA draft after successful freshman years, both Rose and Evans exceeded expectations in their first NBA season.

Evans, still playing his first year in the NBA, is averaging a team-best 20 points per game with five assists per game. Rose won the Rookie of the Year award.

What timing for Kentucky to choose Calipari as their head coach.

Calipari doesn’t have the best track record for sending college players to the NBA, only sending 11 in his 17-year career, but of late Calipari has been a magnet for top high school prospects.

Freshmen forward Demarcus Cousins has superb ball-handling skills for a player his size. Described by coach Calipari as “one of the most talented big man I’ve ever had,” Cousins' combination of size and shooting ability make it tough for defenders to guard him.

Considered the nations second-best prospect and the top forward coming out of high school, Cousins in has four double-doubles in 10 games on the season averaging 14.2 points per game.

Ranked the third-best point guard in the country and 23rd overall by Rivals.com out of high school, freshmen guard Eric Bledsoe has led the team in scoring in two games with 23- and 24-point outings.

Playing in the shadows of John Wall, Bledsoe is shooting a productive 46.8 percent from the field and 53.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Although Bledsoe has a few freshmen kinks to work out, he is a great addition to Kentucky’s fast-pace play.

Speaking of great additions, freshmen guard John Wall impresses more people as he plays more games. The nation’s top prospect out of high school has lived up to his expectations with Kentucky in his first nine games.

Wall has led the undefeated Wildcats (10-0) in scoring five out of the nine games he has played.

Averaging a team best 18.1 points and seven assists, Wall has been named the SEC Freshmen Player of the Week for four straight weeks—the first time in league history a freshman has won the weekly award in four consecutive weeks.

The only other person to win the award was Eric Bledsoe in the first week, making Kentucky freshmen accountable for all five SEC Freshman Player of the Week awards.

When comparing Wall to Rose and Evans at this point in their careers, coach Calipari described his current point guard as being more polished and advanced.    

With the college’s best cast of freshmen combined with the talent of the returning players, the Kentucky Wildcats fast break style of play is only going to get stronger and faster heading into SEC play and beyond.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.