In Calipari’s five years at Kentucky, his teams have been known for their vast collections of talent. However, each season has also featured one notable “star” – the obvious best player that the team could lean on when the going got tough. John Wall, Brandon Knight, Anthony Davis, Nerlens Noel, and Julius Randle can all be thought of as the “stars” of their respective squads. However, with a less-heralded recruiting class and a slew of returning talent, it is unclear who will fulfill this role in the upcoming season. A case can be made for several of this year’s players:
Karl Anthony Towns
Towns is the highest-rated signee in this year’s class (#5 prospect according to Scout) and recently won Gatorade’s Male Athlete of the Year award. Karl has a great head on his shoulders and a competitive spirit – traits that, when combined with his talent, could make him a leader on next year’s team. Of course, he will have to win a starting position in Kentucky’s loaded front-court first – which isn’t necessarily a given.
We already know he’s clutch. If Aaron can become a bit more consistent next season, look out. He’s likely to be the team’s leading scorer; will that be enough to make him the “star”?
Willie has been a projected lottery pick for the past two seasons. He’s now got two years of experience under his belt and will be hungry following his early exit from the NCAA tournament. When he’s on, Willie’s shot-blocking presence is comparable to Noel’s or Davis’s. Could he up the ante and become the team’s key player next season?
He took the starting job from Cauley-Stein in the latter part of last season, and at times Dakari has looked unstoppable in the paint. Apparently he’s become a bit leaner, which should help with his quickness. If Johnson can reclaim a starting spot, he could be a force to be reckoned with next year.
Alex has shown beastly potential since his freshman season. He will be a veteran on next year’s squad and could start at the 3 spot. Can he break out of his shell and become the team’s “star”? It would be awesome to watch.
Last season’s “tweak” that precipitated the incredible postseason run revolved around him. Andrew will be Calipari’s first returning point guard at UK. Considering Cal’s history with point guards, the prospects are pretty darn good.
So, there we have it. Six players who could potentially be the “star” of next year’s team, and we didn’t even consider top 10 recruit Trey Lyles or projected first-rounder Marcus Lee. Of course, with all of the talent in Lexington next season, the upcoming team could buck the trend and have a sort of “star-by-committee”. It doesn’t happen often (the 2004 Detroit Pistons would probably be the best example) but neither does the depth of talent that Kentucky will have next season.
What do you think? Who will be next year’s star? Will the team even have one?