With just six weeks between today and the debut of the Cats against an actual opponent I have never wanted to possess a time machine more. It doesn’t help when people like Chris Johnson of Sports Illustrated decide to give a run down of the best high school class in probably a decade. Johnson takes a look at the top five newcomers to college basketball and unsurprisingly two Cats make the list. At number two it’s Julius Randle:
If the consensus on the 2013 class being really, really good is unanimous, agreement on the idea that Kentucky’s own 2013 haul is the greatest of all time barely misses that same standard. According to college basketball recruiting insiders, the eight-player group coach John Calipari shepherded to Lexington this season is good enough to make Kentucky an instant frontrunner, if not the outright favorite, to cut down the nets at Cowboys Stadium next April. That opinion was reached after Randle committed to Kentucky in March, and remained true even after Wiggins spurned the Wildcats in favor of Kansas two months later. Randle may not have Wiggins’ freakish athleticism, and in this recruiting class, maybe he’s not the No. 1-ranked prospect, but as consolation prizes go, let’s just say Kentucky could have done worse.
However Calipari plans to delegate minutes amongst his super-loaded roster this season, Randle is almost guaranteed to secure a starting frontcourt spot, where his athleticism and toughness will make Randle one of the most dynamic post players in college basketball.
Daniels: “With Julius, it’s all about his physicality and how hard he plays. He’s tough, one of the nation’s best rebounders and can really score on the block.”
The five-year run of Calipari-coached point guards going on to become first round draft picks ended in anticlimactic fashion last season, when NC State transfer Ryan Harrow proved to be a bad fit from the start. By this time next year, Harrow’s inability to blip the NBA scouting radar could wind up being a distant memory. That’s how good — and how sure a thing — Harrison is in terms of elite point guard talent.
When Kentucky landed commitments from both Harrison twins last summer, it was deemed one of the best “package deals” of all time. They could have some serious competition as soon as this fall, when Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor, 2014’s No. 1-ranked point guard and center, respectively, are expected to choose the same college. What won’t change is the simple fact that Kentucky will need at least half of the Harrison duo to play a big part in its 2013-14 national title run. Oh, and don’t be surprised if Andrew, per Calipari’s recent tradition, finds himself selected near the top of the 2014 NBA draft lottery. Scouts salivate over his size (6-5, 210 pounds), capacity for running the break and ability to score and distribute in equal measure. In Harrison, Kentucky is getting the floor general it sorely lacked last season, a player with the poise and selfless mindset to help congeal Kentucky’s roster.
Daniels: “At his size, Andrew has very impressive athleticism, skill and physicality. He’s a guy that I think will be better with elite level players around him, so I expect him to have a major impact at Kentucky.”