Despite losing their entire starting lineup to the NBA Draft, the Cats come in at #4 in Sports Illustrated’s 2012-2013 Power Rankings. Luke Winn writes that Ryan Harrow’s development will be key to Kentucky’s success, as will Kyle Wiltjer’s “pick and pop” play:
That’s “stretch” power forward Kyle Wiltjer, the one returnee from last season’s rotation, running a simple pick-and-pop play with Marquis Teague. Wiltjer was on the court for just 11.6 minutes per game as a freshman, but in that time, he had a higher shots-taken percentage (25.0) than any other Wildcat. That’s a wild stat on team loaded with NBA-bound star power, and it suggests that Wiltjer could be their leading scorer as a sophomore. He’s hard-wired to put up shots.
That’s some high praise for Big Wiltj, but I absolutely agree. Towards the end of the season, Wiltjer seemed to find his groove, and now that he’s able to step in the spotlight, I fully expect him to shine (if he puts in some major time in the weight room this summer, he’ll be luminous).
Because I know you’re curious, here’s the rest of Winn’s top ten:
5. N.C. State
7. Ohio State
Now, obviously there are still several cards to be dealt. Where Anthony Bennett lands will have a huge impact on both Kentucky and Florida’s position, not to mention Amile Jefferson, Montrezl Harrell, Torian Graham, and several potential transfers. Although they have been ranked higher in several other preseason polls, I think fourth is pretty fair considering the remaining uncertainty about next year’s roster. What do you make of the rankings? Is UCLA too high?