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Why Kentucky will be just fine without Marques Bolden

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Earlier this afternoon, Marques Bolden picked Duke over Kentucky, which was not quite the ideal outcome for Wildcat fans; however, as a UK sports blogger, it’s my job to point out the silver linings and spin this as a positive for the Cats. It wasn’t easy, but I spent the past hour or so coming up with reasons why UK is just fine without Bolden, thank you very much.

First, here’s a look at the current roster:

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 3.20.59 PM

(Isaiah Briscoe and Marcus Lee’s decisions are still pending)

Smaller, faster lineup, even more minutes for Bam

The reason UK went after Bolden was to fill up the post with a solid, back-to-the-basket type presence — a “big butt guy,” as Ryan Lemond would say — but with Bolden out of the picture, to me, this means a smaller, faster lineup and more minutes for Bam Adebayo. At 6’9″ 230 lbs., Bam can play alongside 6’10” Wenyen Gabriel or 6’9″ Derek Willis to stretch the court. If Isaiah Briscoe comes back, I expect Calipari to stick with three guards in the starting lineup:

  • G: De’Aaron Fox
  • G: Malik Monk
  • G: Isaiah Briscoe
  • F: Derek Willis
  • F: Bam Adebayo

If Marcus Lee decides to return to school, you could rotate Lee and Killeya-Jones in at the four/five spots.

Isaiah Briscoe’s decision becomes even more important

Bolden and Briscoe obviously play very different positions, but with Bolden off to Duke, Kentucky needs Briscoe back more than ever. Not only would having Briscoe make it easier for Cal to go with a three-guard lineup to compensate for size in the post, this team needs Briscoe’s defense. Briscoe’s dad’s comments yesterday about his son regaining confidence in his NBA workouts have me worried he’ll decide to stay in the draft, so here’s hoping that in the next week, he realizes just how much he could gain by coming back to school and working on his jump shot for a year. In my opinion, Briscoe is the key to Kentucky making another championship run.

If Briscoe decides to stay in the draft, I’m looking at you, Dominique Hawkins.

Time for Isaac Humphries to step up

The best thing that could happen for Kentucky this offseason? Isaac Humphries turning into a star. Humphries had his ups and downs his first season at UK, as expected, but with Bolden out of the picture, he could step in and really be a difference maker. Like last year, Kentucky will need a big guy down low from time to time, and the opportunity is there for Isaac Humphries if he chooses to accept it.

The spotlight will be on someone else for once

The best thing about Bolden heading to Duke? Duke is all but assured to be the preseason number one, and will get to enjoy all the pressure and expectations that come along with it. It’s already started:

Kentucky will be up there as well, of course, but for once, another mega team will have the spotlight. As someone who has watched teams both win and wilt under that load, I’m just fine with Kentucky hanging out on the sidelines and coming in at the end to steal a title.

…Kind of like Duke did. Twice.

Finally, if you’re still feeling down, watch this

See? Just fine.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

14 Comments for Why Kentucky will be just fine without Marques Bolden



  1. KatFromHell
    5:52 pm May 19, 2016 Permalink

    What is the word on Wynyard? Does he have any talent?



    • Angelo
      6:54 pm May 19, 2016 Permalink

      no indication that he does…



  2. SamKat83
    6:07 pm May 19, 2016 Permalink

    I look for further contributions from Isaac umpires (7’0″) and we have yet to see Tai Wynyard (6′ 10″) along withLee. I want Lee back! I’m glad to see Derek listed as a potential starter!



    • Angelo
      6:57 pm May 19, 2016 Permalink

      Tyler was just being nice. Cal would not be so excited about this team if Willis was good enough to start.



    • chadtrill
      9:00 pm May 19, 2016 Permalink

      Your crazy if you don’t think Derek can start. Derek can be a star this year if he improves as much as he did last off season. He and Isiah are the keys to our team this year.



  3. deltasig41
    6:15 pm May 19, 2016 Permalink

    Guys like Wynyard and Humphries are enigmas at this point…Humphries clearly has some talent, but is extremely raw. He needs to transform his body, and hopefully an entire offseason in the weightroom will allow him to do that. As for Lee and Briscoe…I totally agree that Briscoe is the key. I’ve said that for a month. He’s the one guy that could be a huge difference-maker for us. He gives us leadership, defensive intensity, and a non-stop motor. He’s also a good passer and ball-handler. If he can develop his jumpshot (or find it again?), his ability to get to the rim off the dribble will make him virtually unguardable. I hope he decides to develop that part of his game in Lexington, instead of the D-League. If he were able to, he could easily be a top 20 pick and get into some real money (and a guaranteed contract).



  4. BBNBRIAN
    6:39 pm May 19, 2016 Permalink

    Who would have thought that Briscoe could end up being 2016/17’s “Dakari Johnson”? If Briscoe comes back he could be the difference maker next season. He has the experience to play point off of the ball and direct traffic while still having the ability to attack the rim when needed. If I’m not mistaken, wasn’t Briscoe one of our top rebounder last year? He’s had a year to adjust to his larger frame, I think we’ll see a different player this year IF he comes back …



  5. DelrayCat
    6:40 pm May 19, 2016 Permalink

    If Briscoe and Lee stay in the draft and no more signees, the Cats are still 9-10 deep and “positionless” in many ways. I like this team, although I think they sure could have used another true small forward/energy guy….like Matthews.

    G-Fox, Hawkins
    G-Monk, Mulder
    F-Willis, Wynyard
    F-Bam, SKJ
    F-Gabriel, Humphries



    • DelrayCat
      6:43 pm May 19, 2016 Permalink

      Although knowing Cal’s tendencies…Mulder and Wynyard won’t play much making this more likely a 7-8 man rotation (with Humphies needing to step up to play significant minutes).



  6. TonyMontana
    7:54 pm May 19, 2016 Permalink

    I always wanted Jarrett Allen a little bit more than Marques Bolden, from everything I have read it appears we sorta stopped pursuing Allen and went all in for Bolden and it was later reported that Allen took us off his list. Of course Allen hasnt committed anywhere yet, I wonder if that door is still open? His crystal ball is 100% Texas and they were expecting him to sign with him, but the signing period came and went with no word from him. I wonder what he is waiting on? Maybe I’m just crazy. Surely, he wasnt sitting around thinking if Bolden goes to Duke, maybe I can go to UK. I mean thats crazy right?



    • a21CATSfan
      8:14 pm May 19, 2016 Permalink

      Just read this on burntorangenation.com: “The biggest factor with (Jarrett Allen) is supposedly the ability of coaches to develop big men. In that regard, the progress of Texas center Prince Ibeh caught his attention this season, though Kansas head coach Bill Self certainly has some chops in this regard.” What?! Is he more delusional than Bolden thinking dUKe bigs progress better than Kenny Payne’s bigs. Prince Ibeh?! Bill Self???? Jeff Withey, Joel Embiid, maybe Cliff Alexander? Surely not Cheick Diallo. Now, Demarcus Cousins? Anthony Davis? Nerlens, Willie possibly Karl? Yes.



  7. a21CATSfan
    8:25 pm May 19, 2016 Permalink

    It would have been nice to have another Freshman 5 with Fox, Monk, Gabriel (don’t think for a minute he’s coming off the bench), Adebayo and Bolden. But, now throw Briscoe at the “3” and move Gabriel to 4 and Bam to 5. That’s not terrible. Still have Hawk, Willis and hopefully Lee off the bench! 3 Seniors on a Coach Cal squad would be unreal and esp coming off the pine. Sacha is the wildcard and still have some internat’l flare with Mulder, Hump and Wynard as fill-ins for foul trouble and certain situations. Bolden would’ve been the icing but we will still be very, very good. The year after worries me; looks like Cal will lose at least 9 players.



  8. Catphn3
    11:45 pm May 19, 2016 Permalink

    This post is stupid. The whole third “point” is essentially “cross your fingers that Issac Humphries turns into Demarcus Cousins next year.” Well, he’s not going to and he is never going to develop into that type of player. Next years team is going to be just like this years team with a little more athleticism and no shooters. We are going to have to play small all year which means we will be even worse than last year in the rebounding category as well. People better brace for a rough start and hope the team can develop by the end of the year or we can expect another early exit in the tournament.