Could the best recruiting class in history be returning for another year for the Kentucky Wildcats? According to some mock drafts, the answer could be yes.
Only two players from UK’s heralded recruiting class of 2013 are listed in the latest 2014 mock draft from DraftExpress.com.
Julius Randle and James Young are both still considered lottery picks in this year’s draft. The website updated its list Monday evening. Like the previous update in December, Andrew or Aaron Harrison were not listed as draft picks for 2014. Both players are considered top-20 selections — though not lottery picks — in the 2015 draft.
And I have to say, I am MORE than perfectly OK with this. IF and note it’s a big IF Dakari Johnson, Aaron and Andrew Harrison, Marcus Lee, and Alex Poythress return as the story indicates, I will start the 40-0 talk next year. And we all know I HATED the 40-0 talk.
But in reality, mock drafts are not that accurate and if Kentucky wins as we hope, the Harrisons will re-enter the mock drafts. But we can always hope.
If Kentucky can use the Vanderbilt game as a launching point for the rest of the season, thank Vandy guard Kyle Fuller. After the game, Fuller said that he did not think UK was that much better than Vandy. Fact is, Kentucky won despite having a bad game, but Calipari wants to other teams to be scared of UK, not think they have a chance of winning. Calipari has been drilling that message into his team.
In squeezing motivation from Fuller’s supposed impertinence, UK Coach John Calipari said, “That usually does not happen. Part of that, it’s back on us.”
Opponents have the audacity of hope against a Kentucky team that has lost three games and, again, largely depends on freshmen.
“Do you understand what that means?” Calipari said he told the Cats. “I don’t want to say lack of respect, but it’s not like glowing remarks.”
To get more glow, UK needs to be more diligent in dispatching opponents, he said. Merely winning isn’t enough.
“I’m trying to get these guys (past) being excited about winning,” Calipari said, “and (instead) being excited about us getting better.”
That was Calipari’s talking-point in Monday’s meeting with media types, and apparently with the team Sunday.
“I kind of hit them in the mouth,” he said, meaning he surprised the Cats by not being satisfied with merely beating Vanderbilt and Mississippi State in the first two SEC games. Both games saw competitive opponents who seemed to believe they could win.
Much has been made of the fact that Julius Randle’s scoring has dipped the past two games. John Calipari seems to think that part of it is because he is getting the defensive attention normally reserved for a player like Shaquille O’Neal. Regardless, tonight’s game will be a war and Randle and the rest of the Wildcats had better be ready.
Well, he’s played well but he always has three guys guarding him,” Calipari said. “I don’t know if you were covering Arkansas when LSU had Shaq (O’Neal), where you just – everybody played him. And he’s not Shaq, but that’s how they’re playing him.”
One reason teams are swarming Randle is that he’s the SEC’s best rebounder with 10.9 per game. Randle is part of a formidable frontcourt that includes 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein and has Kentucky (12-3, 2-0) tied for second in the nation with a plus-12.7 rebound margin.
“Julius Randle right now is probably playing as well as anyone in our league and possibly in the country,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “So we somehow have to contain him and (Cauley-Stein) on the boards.”
Kentucky has dropped its last two visits to Bud Walton Arena, falling 73-60 on March 2 last season even though Cauley-Stein was a factor inside with 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.
“They always play well against us,” Calipari said. “I mean, they always do. The games that I’ve coached against Arkansas, they play well.”