Willie Cauley - Stein showing the value of coming back to Kentucky Wildcats Basketball

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Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Looking back at the 2012 National Championship team, it’s hard to underestimate the value that the returning players had in leading the title charge. John Calipari proved that you can win a title with a freshman core sprinkled with some upper-class leadership. This year, John Calipari has the greatest class of all time assembled and you have to wonder if a little bit of veteran leadership could be responsible for a similar title run. Even if that leader is a just a year removed from being a freshman?


“We had three really good veterans that were the heart of the (2012) team,” said Calipari on Sunday night after his team knocked off Providence 79-65 at the Barclays Center. “This is a freshman team.”

Ironically, the player most responsible for the win that night was not a freshman. It was sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein, the 7-footer who flirted with a triple-double before finishing with 15 points, eight rebounds and nine blocked shots.

“I think I’m just more aware,” Cauley-Stein said when asked how he had suddenly turned into a sultan of swat. “Like before, in the past, I was hesitant on going. Now I’m just going.”

That is called putting institutional knowledge to good use.

A year ago, the former high school football wide receiver operated mainly in the shadow of the more heralded Nerlens Noel, or at least until Noel messed up a knee and Kentucky’s season when he crashed into a cameraman underneath the basket at Florida’s O’Connell Center.

That shoved Cauley-Stein into the spotlight, possibly before the Olathe, Kansan was fully ready.


Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t underestimate the chances of John Calipari landing another top recruit in the 2014 class. After a few months of seeming inactivity, it appears that Kentucky and Rashad Vaughn are once again a recruiting item.


Findlay Prep shooting guard Rashad Vaughn got a visit from UK assistant coach Orlando Antigua on Tuesday. Findlay assistant coach Pete Kaffey, who also serves as Vaughn’s mentor, confirmed the visit to the Herald-Leader.

Scout.com ranks Vaughn as the No. 13 overall prospect in the Class of 2014, which makes him the No. 2 uncommitted prospect behind Texas center Myles Turner. Vaughn seemingly cut UK from consideration earlier this year after the Cats stopped recruiting him, but Kaffey said UK has been back in contact for about a month. He also said the break in the recruitment was somewhat planned.

“They’ve been recruiting him for a while now,” Kaffey told the Herald-Leader. “We just haven’t been making it public. They wanted to deal with the fall recruits first, and since Rashad was going to be deciding so late it didn’t make sense to go hard (after him) when you could try to get other guys right now.”


Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Got some free time this weekend and want to check out future Wildcats Devin Booker and Trey Lyles? You are in luck.


Two University of Kentucky basketball signees will be among several top high school players at the Marshall County Hoop Fest this weekend in Benton, Ky.

Devin Booker and Trey Lyles, who both signed with the Wildcats last month, are part of this year’s event, which starts Thursday night with four games featuring in-state teams.

The top national players arrive for Friday night’s session, with two more sessions scheduled for Saturday.

Tickets to the Hoop Fest are still available at (270) 527-6714. All-session passes cost $45 for reserved lower-level seats and $35 for general admission upper-level seats. Tickets can also be purchased for $10 a session at Marshall County High School on game day.


Also there are other UK targets participating, so make sure you check out that link for more information.

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