It’s time to move on. And look forward.
Now that Andrew Wiggins has chosen the land of rock chalk and the Kansas Jayhawks, the Kentucky Wildcats are in the exact same position they were yesterday morning. As the number one preseason team in the land. It does pay tribute to the whole Andrew Wiggins mania that Jason King of ESPN was compelled to release a whole new preseason top 25 after Wiggins made his decision.
And while Wiggins will rule the basketball world at the Phog, the Commonwealth still reigns supreme in college hoops as Kentucky and Louisville are the top two teams in the land. The Jayhawks did get a boost to number five after being a fringe top 25 team previously. So the pressure really just begins for Mr. Wiggins. Here is what Mr. King had to say about Kentucky:
1. Kentucky Wildcats: Could the Wildcats really go from first-round NIT losers to NCAA champions? Absolutely. Kentucky’s 2013 recruiting class is already being hailed as the best in college basketball history. The haul includes five players (Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson and James Young) ranked among the nation’s top 10 prospects by ESPN.com. Even without Andrew Wiggins, this may be the most talented college basketball team ever assembled. But will it jell? Even though injuries and chemistry issues ruined his most recent team, John Calipari has proved to be excellent at coaching players who plan to spend only a year or two in college. He’s great at getting them to play defense and share the ball. It will help that some of Kentucky’s key players in 2012-13 (Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein and Kyle Wiltjer) will return to provide veteran leadership, which is something the program sorely lacked last season
So without Wiggins, look for a more focused and consistent Alex Poythress. It’s just a hunch, but I think that Poythress will be a different player this year. Hopefully he comes out with a chip on his shoulder determined to make Kentucky fans forget the player that they coveted. This also does make almost certain the return of Jarrod Polson and Jon Hood to the team, which will add depth at the guard position.
Perhaps, most importantly, the remaining scholarship will provide depth to the point guard position, which is the one position Kentucky was arguably the thinnest at heading into the Wiggins decision with only freshmen Andrew Harrison and Dominique Hawkins on scholarship.
The remaining scholarship should now bring back fan-favorite Jarrod Polson to be a backup to Harrison and mentor to Hawkins for a year.
Polson recently graduated from the University of Kentucky, but he has a year of eligibility left.
Polson being able to mentor Hawkins won’t provide the gratification in 2013-14 that Andrew Wiggins would have, but down the road, it will pay off to have that year of learning for Hawkins, who could very well turn into the next Darius Miller at Kentucky.
The other positive of Wiggins not committing to Kentucky provides the Wildcats is team chemistry. The six incoming All-Americans have all had a chance to bond with each other at various showcase events as teammates. Sure, Wiggins played in those games too, but he wasn’t ‘one of them as a Kentucky commit.
The players now know their roles heading into the 2013-14 season. The media is expected to be intense for this team, but without the No. 1 recruit, it’s possible the media will be directed more toward Lawrence, Kansas to follow Wiggins.
Now that Wiggins-mania is over, (at least in Lexington), it’s time to officially start obsessing about the 2014 class. Karl Town Jr has already committed and is the best player in high school basketball and just finished his sophomore season. There is a lot to like about Towns Jr and he has an infectious personality and is already a UK favorite. Personally, I love the fact that he has blown off the AAU circuit this summer and truly seems to be his own person. Here is a list of the other top 2014 Kentucky recruits so that we can start to become obsessed with them.