The NCAA tournament is not the main focus for Kentucky fans at the moment. It’s sad but true. Most Kentucky fans are focused on scholarship numbers due to the commitment of Julius Randle and the now possible commitment of the #1 overall recruit and once in a lifetime phenom Andrew Wiggins (according to a Rex Champman tweet).
With seven freshman committed to play for Kentucky (Randle, the Harrison twins, James Young, Marcus Lee, Dakari Johnson and Derek Willis) and possibly eight, what would the scholarship situation look like if this season’s freshmen decide to return? As Big Blue Nation freaks out, Andy Katz from ESPN says relax:
Kentucky cleared up the scholarship issue for 2013-14. As of now, the Wildcats don’t have one with players who are promised scholarships for next season. If everyone returns and no one else arrives (see: Andrew Wiggins) then Kentucky is actually set at 13. There are six returning players on scholarship in Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress,Ryan Harrow, Willie Cauley-Stein and Kyle Wiltjer. There are seven incoming freshmen — five are signed in Andrew and Aaron Harrison, James Young, Marcus Lee and Derek Willis — and two are committed in Julius Randle and Dakari Johnson. The odds of Noel returning are slim, even with the torn ACL, freeing up at least one scholarship. There is always the chance someone else will transfer or decide to still declare for the draft even with the prospects of making a team slim. This could actually work out for the Wildcats if the returning players accept roles and become mentors to the star-studded freshmen as rotation players in a year.
Although Katz doesn’t come right out and say it directly, there have been rumors have been swirling about a Kyle Wiltjer transfer to Gonzaga and Ryan Harrow’s status remains uncertain. I think it is more likely that Harrow returns and Wiltjer leaves, but as of right not I think they both return.
Noel is the only one that is gone for sure. Willie Cauley-Stein is the only other freshman, in my opinion, that has a shot in the NBA right now but I don’t think it’s a good enough shot for him to go.
As for Jarrod Polson and Jon Hood, they are on a year-to-year scholarship agreement, and with this year’s incoming class, it’s doubtful their scholarships will be renewed. But count on both to be on the team to hopefully win their second title and finish out their careers as seniors. But that contract situation frees up two more scholarships.
There are plenty of unknown variables, but we have to trust that Calipari has thought of all of this already. He knew about the blockbuster 2013 class and he knew exactly who he wanted. What he didn’t count on was the fact that his team would underperform and that he would have the posibility of so many guys returning.
Regardless, Kentucky fans need not worry. Cal has some wiggle room. And some Wiggins room as well.
Speaking of Wiggins, check out this video and you will see why he is the player that I want the most on Kentucky’s team next season:
The kid has the sickest mix-tape I’ve seen since John Wall. Many say LeBron James, but I’m not ready to make that comparrison yet. That’s a whole different level of talent.