C.L. Brown of ESPN’s college basketball site named the top five newcomers in the Southeastern Conference and two rookie Wildcats made the list. Brown decided to go with Bam Adebayo and De’Aaron Fox as Kentucky’s best newcomers of the six on John Calipari’s roster and all the others in the league.
Here’s what Brown had to say about Adebayo and Fox:
Bam Adebayo, Kentucky Wildcats
The Wildcats’ frontcourt was, in a word, unreliable last season. Although Skal Labissiere possessed a gifted offensive skill set, he didn’t respond well to the physicality needed on the blocks. Marcus Lee made his presence known defensively but was absent on offense. That allowed opponents to outperform the Wildcats in the frontcourt in a way that hadn’t really been done under Calipari.
Those times appear to be over. Adebayo, a 6-foot-9 power forward, has the potential to bring strong post play back to UK. He doesn’t mind the physical play inside. He rebounds well, and the description thrown around a lot by those who have watched him play most is “high motor.”
The Wildcats will need all of Adebayo’s energy, especially with Labissiere (NBA) and Lee (transfer) no longer on the roster. Adebayo will likely start immediately and be the team’s No. 1 option in the post.
De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky Wildcats
Even though he was only 5-foot-9, Tyler Ulis left a big hole at point guard in the Wildcats’ lineup. He was one of the most steady floor leaders in the country last season, and he presented a strong case that he was the best pure point guard Calipari has had at UK.
The 6-foot-3 Fox is a different type of point. He’ll bring size back to the position, but can he bring the stability that Ulis provided? That could be the difference between UK being simply a good team and UK being a special one capable of another Final Four run.
Fox has the kind of speed with the ball that has drawn comparisons to John Wall, but Wall didn’t have the athleticism that Fox possesses to finish on fast breaks. Fox will need to avoid the trap of playing at only one speed. If he can learn that nuance, the Cats have enough talent around him to shine.
See who else made the list here.