It’s time to officially put Robert Morris off the memory bank and start anticipating the 2013-14 basketball season. With the freshman arriving on campus, the sightings of the future NBA millionaires on campus are mounting and these players are getting a glimpse on what being a Wildcat will mean. With the uniform come great expectations as this group of newbies are expected to help hang number nine in April.
It’s not quite as easy as all of that however and there are some questions about how the newcomers will mesh with the returning players. Ben Roberts has five questions for you.
Is one basketball enough for this roster full of superstars?
It’ll have to be, obviously, but just how John Calipari manages to find enough touches for this group will be interesting to watch early in the season.
UK’s roster will boast eight McDonald’s All-Americans — a list that does not include projected NBA lottery pick Willie Cauley-Stein.
The job of spreading the wealth will primarily belong to starting point guard Andrew Harrison, and he knows it.
“A lot of people say we have too many pieces. But I feel like that’s my job, to make everybody happy,” he told the Herald-Leader this spring. “I like to get my teammates involved.”
Harrison has grown accustomed to relying on his talented twin brother Aaron to pick up the scoring load throughout his basketball career. Now that he has so much more talent around him, Andrew will have to adjust to looking in other directions for that first pass.
This seems to be a question every year that Calipari has been at Kentucky and for the most part you can’t argue with the results. Look for a totally different season as these newcomers are focused and determined and there will be no foolishness this year.
It’s obvious that John Calipari has changed the whole nature of recruiting at Kentucky and John Clay says that he has brought about a “perfect storm” at Kentucky.
How many times through Calipari’s four seasons as the UK coach have we heard him say early in the year, “I’m still trying to figure out the best way for us to play.”
A perfect storm has resulted. Calipari was always a great recruiter. He did it at UMass, a school few knew about when it reached the 1996 Final Four. He did it at Memphis, even though the Tigers played in a fringe conference out of the national spotlight.
At Kentucky, Calipari has the history, the tradition, the resources, the funds to take recruiting to the next level and he’s done just that.
Yet even longtime Calipari watchers have to be amazed at how the coach has collected No. 1 classes year after year, from John Wall and De-Marcus Cousins, to Brandon Knight, to Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, to Nerlens Noel, now to the Harrison twins and Julius Randle as part of what is being heralded as possibly the greatest freshman class in history.
It’s not supposed to happen that way, year after year.
At Kentucky, under John Calipari, it has been just that way.
As of now, Karl Towns is the only 2014 commit and he has been out of the public eye and off the AAU circuit lately. That has led to some confusion about where he should be ranked in the class. Towns did however make an appearance on the court this last week and showed he is still as good as advertised.
Towns has often been compared to NBA stars such as Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant — big, creative offensive players who can debilitate a defense with their outside shot.
The UK commitment looked more like at traditional center at this camp. That was partly by design.
Towns has been working hard in the weight room in an attempt to bulk up before he joins the Dominican training camp in early August. He’s up to about 250 pounds, which is 15 more than he weighed around Christmas and substantially more than he carried at the beginning of his high school career.
After getting pushed around by his Dominican teammates and international opponents in limited playing time last summer, Towns figured he needed a little more heft.
“He’s showed that he’s got stronger,” Towns Sr. said. “As everybody’s seen now, he’s taken his game to the block. He just wants to be more of a complete player.”
The added weight hasn’t taken away his versatility. Towns broke a school record for most three-pointers in a season during his freshman year, and both father and son say that outside game is still as good as ever.
That’s what makes him such an intriguing prospect. It also makes him an intriguing piece for Calipari to build his 2014 recruiting class around.