As we head into the summer, the talk of the Wildcats are going to dominate the buzz and speculation of college basketball. But the Kentucky Wildcats will not be the only team in the news. Seems that the Wildcats from out west in Arizona are going to get plenty of scrutiny as the nation’s top team as well.
CBS Sports has Kentucky and Arizona #1 and #3 in their early preseason poll, making the Duke Blue Devils the middle of a Wildcat sandwich, but the debate does not stop there. Jon Rothstein says that Kentucky is the nation’s deepest team, but Arizona has the country’s top starting five.
John Calipari’s squad has talent on top of talent and depth on top of depth. Kentucky will have nine McDonald’s All-Americans on its roster next season and the program that’s been synonymous with dynamite freshmen over the past few years could very well start three sophomores next season — Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison and Marcus Lee — along with two juniors — Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein. Calipari has always had talent but now the scary thing is next year he’s going to have talent to go with experience.
With all that said I’d still take Arizona’s starting five entering next season over any other first unit in America. Sean Miller’s team has a fifth-year floor general in T.J. McConnell who has been through the gamut, along with a blue chip shooting guard in freshman Stanley Johnson who will be elite from day one on both sides of the ball. Arizona’s front court is seasoned and talented as well. Six-foot-7 lefty Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is primed to take a major step forward as a sophomore and Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski will form arguably the best power forward-center combination in the sport.
The folks at the Bleacher Report also give UK and Arizona the #1 and #3 slots in their preseason poll. Kentucky moved from a preseason #6 to the top spot after Calipari brought all those guys back.
What’s to Like: Those top six returners alone would probably be preseason No. 1. Of course, Calipari went out and signed one of the top recruiting classes in the country. Calipari will have so much depth that you could wipe out his starting five and what’s left would still be a top-25 team.
The one question mark is how Calipari is going to keep all those future pros happy. The addition of Tyler Ulis will help. Ulis is a pass-first point guard who will find his way into the rotation somehow even with the Harrisons still around. Big Blue Nation’s imagination will be running wild this summer thinking of all the combinations of lineups that Calipari could use.
So, the Lakers need a coach. And in a roundabout kind of way, Rex Chapman’s tweets now have a self-fulfilling policy as it appears that they will pursue Calipari … and almost every other coach known to humanity.
On Thursday, Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reported that the Lakers intend to interview George Karl, Kurt Rambis, Byron Scott and Jeff Van Gundy, among others. ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Dave McMenamin also reported that the team plans to reach out to the Bulls about the availability of Tom Thibodeau.
But the Lakers’ pool of candidates isn’t exclusive to the NBA. The Times and ESPN.com reported that the Lakers also plan to pursue both coaches from 2014 NCAA title game — Kentucky’s John Calipari and UConn’s Kevin Ollie.
Of course, there is no way that Calipari is leaving the nation’s number one preseason team with a ninth national title just forty games away. And Calipari launched a preemptive strike at the rumors BEFORE they even came out.
Before it starts, I’m totally committed to helping this group of young men reach their dreams. I wouldn’t & couldn’t leave this group!
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) May 1, 2014
As you can see, the tweet did not work … but relax. It’s a #DoneDeal that Cal is staying. I do kind of like the idea of Ollie for the Lakers job. He’s been a career NBA guy and if he wants to coach in the NBA, his stock will never be higher.