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Who will be next year’s MKG?

Winner gets this shirt from me, absolutely free, for only $23.95.

We have a great team to look forward to again next year, and like many other years, we’re looking at almost an entirely new roster.  With the mass exodus that will be occurring, though, Calipari will be losing more than just talent; he’ll be losing the leadership on the team.  Gone is the savvy senior who spent years in the system and finally came into his own.  Gone is the National Player of the  Year.  And gone is the “warrior” who everyone knew would bring the charisma and motivation needed to inspire his teammates to work their hardest every day.  Looking at the upcoming roster, though, it begs the question: who will lead next year’s team?

Ryan Harrow

Harrow is the oldest of the likely starting lineup, and has a lot of experience both in practice at UK, and in games at NC State.  Additionally, he’s in the “floor general” position, which means he’ll have a big say on how the team functions, whether they play in transition or the half-court, and generally running the team and keeping the other guys involved.  I think Harrow is the odds-on favorite right now to be “that guy” for the team next year, though it’s hard to say with so little observation of what he’ll play like.  But the combination of age, position, and skill will probably push him into that role.  Like many Calipari-coached teams, next year’s squad will play only as well as their point guard.

Kyle Wiltjer

Wiltjer will be next year what Darius Miller was in the brief John Wall era.  A highly-ranked recruit who spent a lot of time learning in the first year (even though Darius started several games as a freshman), who is now asked to take on a larger role in the midst of uber-talented freshmen.  We can only hope that what may have been Darius’ most frustrating year becomes the year that Wiltjer flourishes with the increase in touches he’s likely to get.  Will he be “the” leader on the team?  I’m not sure that’s likely.  But he will almost certainly be a steadying presence that young players will need when games get tight early in the season, and on the road.

Nerlens Noel

Going into the season, it’s believed by many that Noel will be the most talented player on the team.  Typically, with great talent comes great responsibility, and we noticed last year that Anthony Davis got more and more leader-like duties as the season went on and he made his case for Player of the Year.  Noel will be the face (er… hair?) of the program next year, and that carries a lot of inherent pressure along with it.  I believe that Noel is the type to thrive under that sort of attention, but whether that translates to being an on-court leader or not is yet to be seen.  If his tweets are any indication, Nerlens is ready to handle all of the problems that are thrown his way, and though he may not start out the year in the “leadership” role, he may very well end the year there.

Alex Poythress

This is my dark horse for the “leadership” role next year.  We knew all along with MKG that he would be that type of player from day one, and I get a similar vibe from Poythress.  There’s no objective reason for me feeling that way, it’s just a hunch.  He seems like that sort of fierce competitor whose work ethic will motivate the guys around him.


Ultimately, we won’t really know until next year what next year’s team is going to look like on the court until they actually… get on the court.  Heck, we don’t even know if next year’s roster is set (in fact, we hope it’s not, Anthony Bennett and Amile Jefferson).  But with the pieces we do know, and since “Kentucky Basketball never stops,” I figure it’s not too early to consider the roles that the guys will have next season.

Your thoughts?

Article written by Corey Nichols

53 Comments for Who will be next year’s MKG?

  1. MacGruber
    9:02 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Brian Long?

  2. The Oval Office
    9:05 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    There will never be another MKG…..

  3. Ready 5
    9:10 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Harrow. He has had a year to observe. Something tells me he is itching to prove something.

  4. HeshimuEvans'2ndGradeTeacher
    9:11 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    I’m gonna go with Archie. He seems to have the confidence and swag to at least try to step up and be the leader. Alex seems too quiet but so did MKG, so who knows? Maybe you’re on to something there.

  5. Archie Goodwin
    9:11 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    What about me?

  6. Micah
    9:11 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    You’re right about “there will never be another MKG” but I think Alex Poythress is going to suprise a lot of people. The most comparable of the group

  7. Azubuike's Bicep
    9:12 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Harrow’s personality is too timid for a leader. Wiltjer doesn’t seem like the type to raise his voice. Hood is struggling to find his own shot, let alone be a leader.

    I think one would assume Nerlens takes that role. But I see him more of a finesse type of guy, as opposed to a hardnosed leader. So with that being said, I think any leadership we are going to have will come from either Goodwin or Poythress.

  8. Thomas Beisner
    9:15 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Archie Goodwin.

  9. CLTN
    9:16 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Knowing Alex Poythress personally, I believe he will fill in a similar role that MKG for this years team. He has the ability to lead by his actions or vocally. I would not be surprised to see him get every big rebound and finish around the basket to help his team win. Ulitimately like Teague did during the tournament, Harrow will need to be the floor general that he is capable.

  10. Miller
    9:17 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    If you’ve payed any attention to the off-season you’d know Archie Goodwin is the guy. He was the first to commit and has been rallying these guys together from day 1. He’ll also be the best perimeter defender we’ve had in years.

  11. exiledfan
    9:19 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    There is only one MKG. His energy and smile even made me think that I could get out there and play — and win!

  12. Azubuike's Bicep
    9:22 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    10- I sure hope your right, but I think your last sentence is a stretch. We have had superb perimeter defenders each of the last 3 year. Ramon, Liggins, and MKG/Miller. Even if Goodwin was an amazing perimeter defender, he would only be considered the same as the previous 4 guys. It’s not anything bad against him. It’s more of a testament to how good the previous four were.

  13. Tom Blevins
    9:23 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    I agree with 2. There’ll never be another MKG. We do need leadership, though. All possibilities suggested are good ones. Let me suggest another, Jon Hood. It’s his 4th year with the program if you count his medical redshirt year. he’s the “old man of the 2012-13 team. His minutes could go up, and he could provide leadership, even with limited minutes, as Cameron Mills did.

  14. Rockfield,KY
    9:24 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Poythress is the closest to MKG’s hustle and game, but MKG is a one of a kind person and player. We have to be careful with our expectations of these guys at first. Noel looks to have more trouble with fouls than AD and he isn’t as good of a rebounder. We have a ton of talent coming in, but we are going to take some lumps early in the year. Cal wins COY this year.

  15. bluefan
    9:24 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    There will NEVER be another MKG!
    Next year’s team will be amazing in their own right.
    That said, can’t believe you left out Archie. SMH

  16. KyTom
    9:25 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    #2, you are so correct. Although I wish it could happen every year, a kid like MKG doesn’t come along every year. Just thankful we had him this year.

  17. Yesterdays
    9:25 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Ramon Harris was not a superb defender. Name 3 games where he locked someone down?

    I’ll go with Archie Goodwin. Harrow just seems too quiet and I dont think he will be the go to guy in clutch situations unless he has worked on his jumper.

  18. Azubuike's Bicep
    9:27 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    17-Cal’s first year, Ramon ABSOLUTELY was a superb defender. He was brought in to games to specifically defend perimeter players.

  19. Game, Set, Match
    9:30 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    17 – He locked Zeller down. That’s for sure.

  20. Cliver
    9:31 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Why’d you leave out Goodwin?

  21. David Elswick
    9:32 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Poythress. He reminds me of Gilchrist in more ways than one. IMO, he’ll also be the best player on the team next season. A beast!

  22. your mom
    9:35 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    “no such thing as a stupid question”, false. when cal’s gone who’s going to be the next cal? you can do better than this.

  23. Dickie Z
    9:42 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Corey, you left out Archie…COME ON MEOW!

  24. jls
    9:48 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Corey’s blogs are always a source of entertainment. Another “oh-my-gawd-I-have-5-minutes-before-my-deadline-and-I-haven’t-started” piece of work.

    For a “who will lead next yaar” blog, you might have considered the previous leaders and their specific strengths. You could have asked what exactly made MKG the leader this past year, which was very unusual since he was a freshman, and the youngest at that.

    When you talked about the individual players … did you seriously just list four and leave off Goodwin? … you really didn’t say much. With Poythress … “its just a hunch.” Nice. Way to stay superficial.

    Example … why was MKG the leader? For one, he worked harder than anyone else. Lots of examples there. He also was willing to sacrifice for the team, and was very vocal, constantaly encouraging his teammates. In the huddle, he was always the center. He played with heart. He was the lockdown defender, and was the toughest player … other players respect that. And bottom line, he won the respect of his teammates very early on. That happened before he ever got to Lexington, and in continued once he was here.

    But … that is just a “hunch.”

    The leader next year … Goodwin. And that is more than just a hunch.

  25. Bryan
    9:53 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    24) shut up man, if you were such a good writer then why dont you aren’t you writing for this site. They have plenty of contests and auditions so I propose that you do it because you’re so much better than Corey.

    I think Archie is going to surprise a lot of people. He seems like a hard worker and is very humble and passionate about the team

  26. barn
    9:55 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    poythress. after watching him in a couple all star games, he seems the most aggressive player of the new guys. he looks really strong

  27. Dickie Z
    9:56 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    #24 – Well said! #25 – is that you Corey?

  28. Yesterdays
    10:04 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    #18- Again, im looking for specific examples.

  29. jls
    10:18 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    25 … Corey’s mom …

    (PS … Corey’s mom, please buy him a “Basketball for Dummies” book this year for his birthday. Also, you could add the Chicago Manual of Style, “Beyound Hunches: How to actually write a blog that has substance,” and “How to Become a Chef.”)

  30. #24 is a douche
    10:28 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Seriously lighten up loser.

  31. wildcatnux
    10:32 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    #2 took the words right out of my mouth…I think that MKG was a once in a generation player, it just so happened that AD was here at the same time. I’d venture to say he is irreplaceable…

    If we try to find someone to fill MKG’s shoes, we’re going to find ourselves extremely disappointed. We need to hope one of these young guys can build their own identity and leadership style, and embrace that.

  32. randomer
    10:35 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    I hate to be a troll but i agree with 24.

    This is a great topic but there is no substance or analysis beyond a few “off the top of your head” thoughts.

    I understand the poor analysis as it takes more time to write something with substance but, how can you leave off Archie Goodwin? He would be my no. 1 favorite to be floor leader – if you have seen any of the interviews with the guy and seen his demeanor I believe he is the hands down favorite, especially since he should be on the floor all game every game.

  33. Rock Slyde
    10:37 am May 1, 2012 Permalink


    Another masterpiece!!!!

  34. jls
    10:43 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    #30 … is that you Corey?

  35. Miller
    10:45 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    11…What separates Goodwin from the guys you mentioned is his ability to create turnovers. While the others were superb at staying in front of their man, Archie has the ability to quickly turn it into points at the other end. One thing the last 2 teams havent done well is create turnovers.

  36. jls
    10:52 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    What Corey didn’t say …

    There are actually a lot of different kids of “leaders.” At least at face value, I don’t see any of our current crop of Cats leading the same way that MKG did. He will be one of the top two or three picks in the draft, yet was also the one that wanted early morning workouts, played the hardest, was the most dedicated to defense, and took fewer shots than any other “star” in NCAA. Add to that his great smile and friendly attitude, his focus, and his willingness to lead, you have an obvious leader.

    Yet, interestingly enough, you had several other players step up to “lead” last year as well. I was very impressed with Lamb and Miller at times. And at the end of the year, Teague was definitely the “floor leader” (see Corey’s photo that was snitched from some other site).

    So no, we won’t have the next MKG, in part because what made MKG such a good leader is that he had a dedicated group of teammates that came together as a group. That kind of chemistry is unique.

    You could argue that they year before, despite the run to the Final Four, that “leadership” was problematic. The team really struggled on the road during the SEC season, and much of that had to do with youth, but leadership was certainly an issue.

  37. jls
    10:55 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    #35 … I think the lack of turnovers was intentional. This years UK team played better when they backed up and stayed in front of you. Other teams didn’t have many turnovers, but they didn’t get good shots, either. Also, with a limited bench, Cal didn’t want guards trying for lots of steals, in part because of concern over fouls.

    But I agree, Goodwin has amazing quickness out front. He and Harrow will shake up some opposing guards.

  38. snooky
    11:08 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Corey is my hero.

    I can just see him, smoking a joint, eating pizza, and putting together this crap without even having to think. Friggin’ amazing.

    Don’t listen to the haters, Corey. You are the pet rock of your generation.

  39. Maxbps8
    11:10 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    The Silent Assasin – Kyle Wiltjer will be the team and floor leader with Jon Hood playing the DMill-role coming off the bench to provide experience and poise.

    This is PRECISELY why I will never understand why Cal doesn’t use ALL of his scholarships so he can develop players over 3 and 4 years to provide the depth, support, experience, and poise that are crucial to consistently winning National Championships (9, 10, 11, & 12…&…&…). Take this year, we have SEVEN young men leaving but as of yet ONLY FOUR recruits! Why not SIX with one left for AB or AJ?? And Long and the other NY’er don’t NEED scholarships; well, at least, they don’t deserve them from a basketball-sense at KentuckY and should NOT be getting one if we can get players like DMill that will be provide the necessary leadership. That’s my 2-cents.

  40. Maxbps8
    11:12 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    MKG = #2’s right. We won’t see another MKG for another decade or two…IF we are lucky. That stated, Poythress will be the engine that drives this team. Steering the wheel will, of course, by the PG-RHarrow. And LEADING the team will be KW.

  41. Ryan
    11:25 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    That’s not how you use “begs the question.”

  42. Steve Carell
    11:47 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    I love lamp…

  43. HeshimuEvans'2ndGradeTeacher
    11:59 am May 1, 2012 Permalink

    For those of you who mentioned Hood, LOL get the hell outta here! Thanks for the laugh though. I do believe you have to actually be a good player to be looked at as a leader. Could you honestly see Nerlens, Archie, Harrow and Poythress looking to Hood on the bench for some guidance? LOL thanks again!

  44. Mkgistebow
    12:06 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Did you seriously put Kyle Wiltjer on this list?

  45. Mkgistebow
    12:13 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    After many a sleepless night I finally figured out why Corey still has a job at ksr. Its so obvious: He’s Matt’s drug dealer.

  46. BigBlue
    12:23 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink


  47. HIcksPickSix
    12:25 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    “Hmm… what to write about today? Yesterday’s post was obviously a mistake, especially since one of my fellow bloggers called me out on it. How can I make up for my streak of mediocrity?! Oh, I know! Write an obvious piece about a beloved player from last year’s team!” – Corey’s thought process for today’s post.

  48. Confused Corey
    12:29 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    These are three different things;

    floor general was Teague, MKG was exactly that -MKG, the leader was Miller, especially in crunch time. You are all over the place with this. It makes less sense than your Rondo post.

  49. coreys-thought-process
    12:30 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    47 … I like the idea of trying to figure out Corey’s though process! My version:

    “Hmmm. Since I don’t know anything about the NBA, I should probably write something about Kentucky basketball. But since I don’t know anything about Kentucky basketball, it will have to be something that SOUNDS like I am talking about Kentucky basketball, but is primarily filler cause I need to go take a shower in 5 minutes. So, is this really the best way to get laid in college?”

  50. Smyrna_Cat
    12:36 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Corey, I really hate to see you take a beating on EVERY blog you make. You may want to either stop writing this nonsense, or you may want to spend a little more time and do it well. I would love to see you succeed, but you really have to be a bit more thoughtful in what you write. It really does seem you just write whatever you can come up with in 5 minutes.

    Can I offer a suggestion? How about a blog on how the recruiting for this coming year may influence what happens in 2013? There are so many possibilities there.

    Go beyond the superficial, Corey. I have faith in you.

  51. Mr. Blonde
    12:38 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Is that Robin Williams modeling that shirt? Talk about armhair!

  52. Tom blevins
    2:20 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    43. As far as I could tell, I’m the only one who mentioned Jon Hood, so allow me to respond. It’s all speculation at this point. We don’t have any proven leaders coming back, so we really don’t know who will provide leadership, or how long it will take for said leadership to develop. I chose to speculate on Jon Hood. I still think I might be right, but I’m glad my speculation provided you with a good laugh. We all need a good laugh now and then. But tell you what, let’s see what happens this season. If JH doesn’t provide leadership, you have every right to say, “I told you so.” If that’s the case, I’ll try to accept it with good grace. Meanwhile, let’s join together in wishing the Cats another successful season in 2012-13.

  53. NotSatire
    4:29 pm May 1, 2012 Permalink

    Archie will be the spark plug for next year’s team.