Does Kentucky Basketball Have The Chance To Be The Powerhouse They Were In 2014
The answer, no. That will never be done again. However, Big Blue Nation can once again expect a big season from another very young wildcat team. Coach Cal was once again able to haul in a loaded recruiting class full of talent. Currently ranked the Number two class in the nation behind Duke, according to ESPNs rankings. Although they may not have come out in front in these rankings, they landed 8 recruits overall, which is superior to Duke’s 6 signees.
This wildcat freshmen class is lead by Kevin Knox, a 6–9 small forward from Tampa, Florida. Knox takes on the roll of many Kentucky small forwards before him, as being an athletic freak of nature. Capable of running the floor, driving the ball into the lane, posting up down low, and even draining shots from the outside. On top of all this, Knox is an excellent ball-handler for a man of his size, similiar to former Wildcat, Trey Lyles.
This team is by no means a one man army. Calipari was also able to sign P.J. Washington, a 6–8 freshman, ranked as the number 7 power-forward in his class, according to 247Sports. Along with other 5 star recruits, shooting guard Hamidou Diallo (who is red-shirting his freshman year), center Nick Richards, power forward Jarred Vanderbilt, and point guard Quade Green. This UK recruiting class also consists of two 4-star recruits, point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and shooting guard Jemarl Baker.
It wasn’t only about the freshman that made that 2014 Kentucky team so special. It was the players who stayed for their sophomore year who defined that historic team. This years team will once again feature Forward Wenyen Gabriel and Forward Sacha Killeya-Jones.
Gabriel was criticized tremendously last year for his lack of ball control and defensive presence. The only abilities he displayed last season were his incredible strength, athleticism and talent. It will be interesting to see how he has developed those skills and attributes over the off-season. He has the potential to be a high caliber player and possibly the leader of this year’s team.
As for Killeya-Jones, he did not have the freshman season he was hoping for. Coming out of high school, Killeya-Jones was a McDonald’s All-American and was expected be a big part of last year’s Wildcat team. However, he found himself on the bench for most of the season for his lack of defense and ability to play at the level that playing at Kentucky requires. Killeya-Jones has the potential to be a huge piece to this year’s team. It will all come down to what he has done in the off season and the effort that he is willing to put in this season, to go along with his incredible talent.
So overall, this year is going to be another exciting one to watch for all of Big Blue Nation. The result that they will see in March will depend on how well this team is able to come together with all of the talent and athleticism that they posses. And there is no better coach in the country in grooming freshman into a tight-knit team, than John Calipari.
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