Skip to content

Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.

Would Kentucky have returned five of its top seven players if not for last season’s rough patches?

Harrison hug


March 1, 2014: South Carolina– 72, (17) Kentucky– 67.


Raise your hand if you hadn’t given up after the lowest point in the 2013-14 season. Didn’t think so.


A 22-9 (12-6 SEC) record– capped off by a 19-point blowout at the hands of Florida– to finish the regular season is a far cry from the lofty (albeit unrealistic) preseason predictions of college basketball’s first ever 40-0 season. The Wildcats’ early season losses to (2) Michigan State and (20) Baylor could have easily been excused as growing pains of an unexperienced team. Even the loss to (18) North Carolina was understandable, as it was the first true road test for a team led entirely by underclassmen.


Then, there was the 2-0 season sweep by Arkansas. There was the 82-87 defeat in Baton Rouge. There was the eventual three losses to Florida in as many tries. Worst of all, there was the 5-point loss to South Carolina, the perennial bottom-dwellers of the Southeastern Conference. After four months of disappointing basketball, Kentucky’s national title hopes, and thus, it’s season, looked all but over.


But, then came the SEC Tournament. Even though the ‘Cats lost by a single point to Florida (after a botched play in the game’s closing seconds by Kentucky’s James Young) in the final, there was no denying that something had changed. Kentucky was a different basketball team.


With a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament’s most brutal region, the Wildcats’ miraculous postseason run was set to begin. Soon came the 78-76 thrilling upset over previously undefeated Wichita State. Then came Aaron Harrison for three… again… and again. The newly “tweaked” Kentucky squad made a run nobody expected all the way to the Final Four, only to lose in the national championship game to the UConn Huskies.


Every year, it seems that after a run like that, the bad part comes just as soon as the celebration ends: all of our best players leave for the NBA. In fact, the last time Cal’s ‘Cats reached the national title game, all five starters declared for early entry into the NBA Draft. It seemed only inevitable that the same would happen to this team. But, then again, something was different. Thanks to the adversity faced during a disappointing regular season, the 2014 national runners-up experienced something the 2012 national champions did not. In fact, even the Elite Eight-bound 2010 Wildcats, who lost five players to the NBA Draft’s first round, gave fans more than of which they could have dreamed heading into the NCAA Tournament. But, just like the 2011 team, the bitter taste of disappointment had left these players hungry.


Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, Dakari Johnson, Andrew Harrison, and Aaron Harrison– all players with sure-fire NBA Draft potential– came back to school not because of what they achieved, but because of what they didn’t. One would think a run to the Final Four would silence all doubt and critics, alike. But, as Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb learned after a less than stellar regular season three years ago, it doesn’t. All five players were still labeled with question marks as the NBA Draft’s entry deadline approached. All five players were still being scrutinized for what they didn’t accomplish during the regular season. But, more than anything, all five players still had unfinished business back in Lexington.


Now, with the addition of a star-studded recruiting class that includes Karl-Anthony Towns, Jr. (No. 2 in 247Sports’ 2014 class rankings), Trey Lyles (No. 17), Tyler Ulis (No. 20), and Devin Booker (No. 22), John Calipari’s only expected problem next season will be managing minutes between his nine McDonald’s All-Americans and the rest of his key returners. Players will surely be forced to make adjustments (Alex Poythress is predicted to make the move to small forward, just as Patrick Patterson did before him in preparation for his jump to the NBA), but the goal remains the same: win a national title.


In the words of 50 Cent, “Sunny days wouldn’t be special if it wasn’t for rain. Joy wouldn’t feel so good if it wasn’t for pain.” The Big Blue Nation’s jubilation felt from returning six key players (including Marcus Lee) from last season’s magical postseason run might not have happened if not for the disappointment felt from the regular season. As the old adage goes, good things come to those who wait.


96 Conclusion Logo





Article written by Connor Link


27 Comments for Would Kentucky have returned five of its top seven players if not for last season’s rough patches?

  1. lonnieb
    4:58 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

    of course more would have left. But we would also have #9 and i would.not have cared if they all left. I will trade a title for a bad season all day long

    • pr
      6:26 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

      That’s pretty sad…. I.think recruits should take a look at post like this before they decide on a school

    • Luther
      7:21 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

      All day long….

    • Lonnieb
      8:15 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

      recruits look at post and think what? If they come in here do what they are supposed to do and leave after a year i don’t care. Its what may be best for them as players and financially. If the twins had of played to potential and pre season draft status we would have won a title and i would have been okay with them leaving. Don’t get confused with being okay with them leaving vs wanting them to leave. However if we had won a title this i think at least 4 others would.have left. Close to first round picks with nothing else to accomplish in college. The difference between me and you is im not selfish and wish them the best. If we win a title they provided something for the fans and the school that few others have been able to do. So yes im okay with all of them leaving if we win a title….if its in THEIR best interest

  2. colonelcat
    5:02 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

    Patterson never played the 3.

  3. Bill
    5:03 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

    Gary Henderson’s Bat Cats gave up 49 hits this weekend as UK got swept by Ole Miss – I wonder if Coach Cal could also be our pitching coach! – GEEZ!

  4. No joke
    5:11 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

    Gorse saying Willis will transfer in next week.

  5. Old Codger
    5:12 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

    Patterson didn’t play the 3. He played the 4 and worked on the corner 3 because the Dribble Drive is primarily setup to be a 4 out, 1 in offense.

  6. John Ellis
    5:16 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

    Check your history on South Carolina – beat UK at Rupp in Pitino’s last regular season game, a 2 seed, beat Wall at SC, new coach is legit, and then there are the Frank McGuire years. UK fans denigrate the SEC as much as the national press. I didn’t give up on this team, but I did stop expecting miracles – then they created one.

  7. It's obvious
    5:34 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

    If Poythress wants to play in the NBA, he’s gonna need to be a 3. He has the tools and athleticism to do so. Just needs to work on his attack/driving. I see him being a Jeff Green type player.

  8. Real reason
    5:43 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

    All of those players, but Willie, stayed because of their projections in the draft. And their projections were low because of their inconsistent play all season. The run to the Final was truly magical but that inconsistent play resurfaced in that game. If anyone else had showed up to help Young we win that game. Or if Willie didn’t get hurt. But lets not pretend they are coming back for “unfinished business.”

    • Luther
      7:21 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink


    • Real reason
      3:01 am April 28, 2014 Permalink

      Obviously it wasn’t obvious to the post I’m responding to moron. Did you even read it?

  9. Bill Brasky
    5:51 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

    That’s a nice narrative you’ve created there, but sorry, it ain’t the truth. Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad they’re back – but winning a NC is NOT the reason they came back. They’re back because they didn’t like their draft stock (with the possible exception of Willie). If a NC was the reason they returned, they would’ve announced they were coming back weeks ago – when Willie did – not at the 11th hour. Winning a NC is obviously the goal now that they’ve decided to return; it’s just not the reason they returned.

    • Luther
      7:20 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink


  10. The Truth
    5:59 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

    “I am not the reason everyone is back.” – Unfinished Business

  11. Standards
    6:11 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

    I agree with the commenters above. Winning a national championship isn’t the reason most those kids came back and you all know it. The author doesn’t write regularly here…so who approved this post??? Obviously this isn’t the WSJ or NYT, but you guys should still have higher standard than this. You published a post that is bold-faced lie.

  12. pr
    6:20 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

    At least we got em another yr. So be happy goodness. I swear. They should call our fanbase BIGBLUE CRYBABIES!! N I’m a uk fan through n through…. no doubt. Just tired of everyone whining…

    • Word of Advice
      6:25 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

      News flash: ^^ these aren’t fans. ^^

  13. pr
    6:29 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

    Well I hope not. Maybe you can scroll up and look at 1. A true fan would never say I wouldn’t care if they left if they won the title last yr. Why not?? I would hope a true fan would care.

  14. Bdmnky81
    7:30 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

    So in summary, if more players had played fully up to their potential all season, we would have had an easier season plus #9 and they would be going in the lottery/mid 1st round as projected. Can I write for you guys now?

  15. Joe
    7:31 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

    Why aren’t you a “real fan” if you couldn’t care if they left after winning No. 9? If they all left I wouldn’t cry, as long as we hung No. 9. Doesn’t mean I don’t care about them, just means that if they hung No. 9 they would have done all I had hoped they could & so they can move onto the NBA with all my blessings.

    I agree most stayed because they weren’t going to meet THEIR daft expectations, due to this season. So, my interests & theirs align, they need to stay & perform great, & as a fan I need them to perform great.

    I can like the Twins or WCS, that’s separate from being accepting of their move or no move to the NBA.

    • Word of Advice
      9:09 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

      I was referring to the know-it-all’s above who are just so absolutely, positively, without a doubt, point blank, period sure that winning a title doesn’t factor in in the slightest to their decision to return. I agree that they are looking for the best possible draft position, but to imply they don’t care about winning/the university is the same shit that haters/UL fans/complete idiots spew.

      That being said, I agree with your stance that if they won 9, they can go to the draft. See, winning it all also tends to improve draft status. Everyone wins. 😉

  16. Michael
    10:29 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

    I think it was a combination. I think they wanted to come back for a NC but couldn’t risk making a mistake with their draft status. Had they been guaranteed a good draft position if they stayed or left several I think would have come back. Alex and WCS and Johnson I believe for sure. It’s tough to choose when your livelihood is possibly on the line. Just don’t think it was cut and dry and all about just NBA.

  17. Michael
    10:36 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

    Regardless, Cal made it clear to all of those coming in that it’s a “Players First” program and if they are ready they should go. But really only the two that left were NBA ready. Alex and WCS really like school. Marcus wanted a chance to prove himself I believe. With the twins, there were a lot of fans really dogging them out and not exactly making them feel welcome. Which was wrong. Your either Big Blue fan all in or not at all. No part time fans needed in the BBN.

  18. Woo's Gummy Snacks
    11:58 pm April 27, 2014 Permalink

    not giving up shouldnt be the minority…Im not even certain thats the case but in my mind I knew anything was possible and I reminded myself that the fab 5 didnt turn it on until conference play

    dont ever give up…barrier free limitless minds yall

  19. miggles
    11:16 am April 28, 2014 Permalink

    Dude, I am begging you. Winning team’s score goes first, even when it’s a Kentucky loss. This ain’t volleyball.