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:
(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:
- Marques Bolden’s commitment adds to Duke’s embarrassment of riches
- Duke basketball’s latest signing instantly makes them the 2017 title favorites
- With addition of 5-star center Marques Bolden, Duke is college basketball’s clear No. 1
- Dream Team headed to Duke? Nation’s top center Marques Bolden picks Blue Devils
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.