As Kentucky fans, it is never too early for us to start looking ahead. Others may think it is, but others don’t matter. They are not us. We are going to be GREAT next year. That is a fact. But have you thought ahead to the 2014-2015 season? If you’re like me, I bet you have. The turnover for next year’s team is unpredictable at this point but let’s take a look at the class of 2014 and see who may be stepping on the floor to join the returners and take the place of the record breaking number of draft picks we’re expected to have. It’s not a sure thing, but I assume we’ll lose not all but most of the following players to the NBA draft: both Harrisons, Willie Cauley Stein, Julius Randle, Marcus Lee, James Young, and Andrew Wiggins (hopefully).
That’s a lot of turnover and we’ll have a big need for guys to join Poythress (maybe), Wiltjer, Johnson, Hawkins, and Willis to take the place of the departed. In honor of the late George Jones, let’s call this post “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?”
Current 2014 Commits:
Karl Towns- As you probably know, Kentucky has already received a commitment from the five star big man. It is the only commitment John Calipari has received in the class of 2014 so far, but it is a good one. Despite being 7’1”, Karl is not just an inside threat. Take a look at what the big man can do.
Who’s Shoes Will He Fill?- Towns and sophomore Dakari Johnson will likely fill the shoes of Willie Cauley Stein and Marcus Lee.
Current 2014 Recruits:
Tyus Jones- This 6’0” point guard from Minnesota has an offer from Kentucky and is very high on the priority list. He is ranked in the top 4 players in this 2014 class by every major recruiting service. Take a look at what he can do.
Who’s Shoes Will He Fill?- Jones and sophomore Dominique Hawkins would be filling the shoes of Andrew Harrison, who is projected as a top five pick in next year’s NBA draft.
Emmanuel Mudiay- The most likely future point guard for your Wildcats is this 6’4” PG from Prime Prep in Texas. He fits the physical mold of other Calipari point guards (John Wall, Tyreke Evans, Andrew Harrison). He likes Calipari’s coaching style, saying Cal “Brings the dog out of you.” Take a look at him doing what he does.
Who’s Shoes Will He Fill?- He would take over for Andrew Harrison and likely be backed up by sophomore Dominique Hawkins. It’s exciting to think what the Big Blue Nation could do with a name like Emmanuel.
Devin Booker- This 6’4” shooting guard from Mississippi recently received a UK offer and is very interested in coming to Lexington. He called Kentucky a “powerhouse.” He is ranked as high as 19th in the class and as low as 28th. Here’s how he gets it done on the floor.
Who’s Shoes Will He Fill? Booker would most likely step in for Aaron Harrison at the 2 guard.
Stanley Johnson- Known most of all for playing hard every game, this 6’6” small forward from California is ranked anywhere from 12 to 17 in the class of 2014. He has an offer from UK, and although Cal has had some success recruiting the West coast with Terrence Jones and Kyle Wiltjer, he has also fallen short with Aaron Gordon and Anthony Bennett. When it comes to recruiting, though, I trust in Cal. Here’s a video of Stanley Johnson playing basketball.
Who’s Shoes Will He Fill? Johnson will join senior Kyle Wiltjer and sophomore Derek Willis in filling the hole left at the small forward position by James Young and (hopefully) Andrew Wiggins.
Cliff Alexander- A 6’9” power forward from Chicago ranked anywhere from 5th to 12th in the 2014 class, Alexander reminds me a lot of Demarcus Cousins. Not a high flier, but athletic. He has very good hands and clears a lot of space by using his massive frame. Watch this video and you’ll see what I mean.
Who Shoes Will He Fill?- Mrs. Tyler joked that Cliff is so big he’d fill everyone’s shoes. It’s assumed he will be choosing between Kentucky and Michigan State. If he chooses Kentucky, he would likely join already committed Karl Towns and sophomore Dakari Johnson in filling the shoes left empty by Julius Randle, Willie Cauley Stein, and Marcus Lee.
Trey Lyles- Another guy who could be included in the group with Alexander, Towns, and Johnson is this 6’9” power forward from Indianapolis. He had originally committed to Indiana but has since backed off that commitment. I guess Sweet 16’s aren’t really his thing. Lyles is a top 10 guy because he makes good basketball plays. Watch them.
Who Shoes Would He Fill?- Apparently not anyone’s at Indiana. As I said earlier, Lyles would step into what would most likely be a three or four man rotation at the 4 and 5 spots.
Rashad Vaughn- This 6’5” shooting guard holds an offer from UK, but has yet to trim his list down from almost every major program in the country. He is a top 15 guy and even better depending on who you ask and is likely one of the top priorities for UK in the 2014 class. From Minnesota, he is considered one of the best shooters in this class. See why in this video of him shooting and dunking the basketball.
Who’s Shoes Would He Fill?- Considering his size, I would think Vaughn could play both the two guard and small forward, meaning he would help fill the shoes of Aaron Harrison, James Young, and (hopefully) Andrew Wiggins.
While some of these guys will certainly end up at UK and some of them won’t, it will be tough to know exactly who until we see what kind of season our guys have this year. It’s unlikely any high profile guys will commit until they figure out who is staying and who is going. It’s the offseason though, a time for our minds to collectively wonder. And I, like George Jones, wondered “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?” Now we have our answer. I’ll leave you with this classic song from The Possum himself. Rest in Peace, George.