As confetti streamed from the rafters of the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans Monday night following Kentucky’s 67-59 victory over Kansas, Wildcat fans celebrated in Lexington, while Jayhawk fans mourned in Lawrence. But for Mizzou fans wondering how their future SEC-Opponent will shape up next season, it is time to look at Kentucky’s 2012-13 roster will look.
While it might seem that a rebuilding year for the Wildcats would be imminent, as a result of losing all five starters and sixth man Darius Miller, it is important to note how coach John Calipari has employed a recruiting style different from any other major college coach since arriving in Lexington. And now that he has a national championship under his belt to back up his philosophy of recruiting players that intend to leave for the NBA after one season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more and more top recruits make the Wildcats their top choice in the coming years.
For next season, the Wildcats bring in a trio of players that share resemblance to three of the Wildcats’ most important players from this season. Calipari’s top signee was 6 foot 4 guard Archie Goodwin, who was ranked as high as 7th in the nation by MaxPreps, and who reminds many Kentucky fans of current guard Doron Lamb, who quietly and efficiently led the team in scoring throughout the NCAA tournament. And at some period of time next year, it is expected that Goodwin will get some playing time at the point guard position, once he has mastered and comfortable with the offense scheme.
In addition, Calipari was able to sign 7 foot center Willie Cauley, a Kansas native, away from the in-state Jayhawks and to the Wildcats. While Cauley is a 7 footer, he is comfortable handling the ball on the perimeter and boasts a true all around game, traits that are very similar to current player of the year Anthony Davis. When Cauley explained why he chose Kentucky over Kansas, he stated, “I felt going to Kentucky, I’ll be playing against the best in the nation. I’ll get better and have a chance to go (to the NBA) early. That was a big thing.” Clearly, this statement shows how more and more top recruits are comfortable with the idea of being a one and done player, now that the system has been in place for several years. And as a result, players like Cauley from across the country are abandoning their respective in-state powerhouses to come play for the Wildcats.
The final Kentucky signee of the 2012 class is 6 foot 7 small forward Alex Poythress, who closely resembles current small forward and future NBA lottery pick Terrence Jones in his stature and athleticism. In fact, rivals.com senior analyst Jerry Meyer went as far as to say that Poythress is a more explosive athlete than Jones.
Clearly, these three incoming freshmen will play prominent roles for the Wildcats next season, and although Kentucky will not be as dominant as they were this season, they have to be considered early favorites to win the SEC championship in 2013.