Psychic Prognostication: Now with more Dapper Dan.
Did you all see that poll about Louisville being the “#1 Fanbase” in the country? Pretty ridiculous, right? Especially when you consider that it values the purchasing of actual tickets less than the purchasing of gaudy snap backs. But speaking of ridiculous things, let’s do something ridiculously early: make predictions about next year’s basketball team.
Now that Wiggins is officially off the board, we have our team for next year set in stone. Or at least, very stubborn clay. So now that we know the roster, why not ask who’s going to be the scoring leader next season?
Please note, the question is NOT “Who will be UK’s best player next season?” Really, it’s just “Who’s gonna rack up the most points?” Last season, it was fairly evident that Nerlens Noel was the best guy on the team; look what happened without him. But leading scorer? Archie Goodwin, with 14 points per game. Noel wasn’t even second. He got third with 10.5 a game. So with that little disclaimer out of the way, let’s start the speculation. Which scholarship player is gonna lead the team in scoring next season?
The Case For: Poythress has arguably the most physical potential on the team. His tools, that he flashed last year, are exceptional, and he has the size to dominate other players in his position (if he plays SF). Throw in a year of experience, and last year’s points runner-up could take the title in 2014.
The Case Against: Alex, like Terrence Jones before him, is something of an enigma. It’s hard to predict whether he’ll show up and dominate, or back off and be abused. If practice competition toughens him up, look out. Otherwise, 2nd place would be a dream come true for him.
The Case For: Willie was a little bit raw offensively last year, and only picked up 8.3 points a game. But he had plenty of time to hone his skills when Noel went down, and showed a lot of improvement. Keep that up, and he could be the go-to-guy on offense.
The Case Against: Willie’s a defensive player. Solid rebounder, shot blocker, and presence around the rim. Plus, his free-throw shooting is just awful. Can’t lead the team in scoring by making half of your freebies.
The Case For: Kyle’s a natural scorer. His outside range is virtually unlimited, and if the Cats get a lot of transition looks next year with him on the floor, he’s a great option to trail and shoot an open three. He’s built for that play. Plus, he makes his FTs.
The Case Against: You gotta be on the floor to score. I just made that up. But, ironically, Kyle’s gotta learn to play defense before he can contend for the top scoring spot. Plus, he had weird cold streaks last season. Could be a dark horse favorite, though, if he gets the minutes; he beat three other guys last year that got more time than he did.
The Case For: Uh… he’s a senior?
The Case Against: Too many great guard/wing options next season.
The Case For: He has great lake hair.
The Case Against: He has great lake hair.
The Case For: Andrew has all the tools you need to be a great scorer: size, range, mobility, and tenacity. Plus, you know he’ll have the ball a lot, so how many shots he gets is really up to him. He could also clean up with FTs if he’s able to shoot through contact. Might lead the team in “And 1s.”
The Case Against: Thankfully, Andrew looks like he’s just too good a teammate to score the most points. As a pass-first playmaker, he’ll try to make sure other guys get looks before he keeps it himself.
The Case For: All he does it make buckets. He’ll be a solid defender, but really, scoring is his first, second, third, fourth, and fifth priority. And he can do it. Take the tools Andrew has, cut out the “pass first” mentality, and you’ve got an arguable favorite for next year’s scoring leader.
The Case Against: He and James Young might be competing heavily for the 2-guard spot, meaning they’d split some minutes. Not a huge blow, but still a mitigating factor.
The Case For: I’ve said all along that Young is a better Doron Lamb. Which is really saying something, because I freakin’ loved Doron Lamb at UK. He could score anytime, anywhere, on anybody. James Young is bigger, faster, and stronger. He’s gonna be scary.
The Case Against: See Aaron Harrison. These two will fight for minutes, with Aaron maybe picking up some at PG, and Young at SF. They might expect 25 minutes a game instead of 30. Plus, Young has to fight Poythress at SF.
The Case For: Randle will be one of the top players in the country, regardless of year or position. He really can do everything pretty well, and he’ll have all the minutes he wants at the PF spot.
The Case Against: His first job isn’t scoring, it’s doing everything. He could very well be the best player on the team next year, but he won’t get as many shots as some of his teammates. We’ll discuss him more heavily in later “Ridiculously Early Predictions.”
The Case For: Lee is a long, athletic freak of nature who can get over almost anybody.
The Case Against: His natural instincts are for shot-blocking and rebounding. Plus he has Mt. VeJulius standing in his way at PF. Maybe Wiltjer, too.
The Case For: Johnson has improved drastically since his commitment to Kentucky, and has shot up the recruiting boards. Plus he’s huge. Really, he’s a monster.
The Case Against: Dakari is this year what WCS was last year–an offense in progress. And we have yet to see how he handles free throws, which is always a concern for centers.
The Case For:
The Case Against: Too much talent around him, not enough minutes.
The Case For: He’ll have a shot at a decent amount of minutes at the backup PG spot. He’ll certainly be behind Andrew, but if he can beat Polson for the #2 spot, he could do pretty well.
The Case Against: Hard to pick anybody whose best situation next year is a #2.
You have options to consider. I’m reluctant to commit, but if you make me choose, I’d go with Aaron Harrison. To me it’s really a toss up between him and James Young; both are so versatile and so smooth. I just think Aaron is more likely to get early minutes, and especially early passes from his psychically-melded twin brother. Wiltjer’s a dark horse, and Randle’s a work horse. And Poythress could make us all look silly if he comes to play. But who you got?