Kentucky’s roster includes four players projected as first-round picks in the 2014 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.com, and three others picked as first-rounders in 2015.
Freshman forward Julius Randle is projected as the No. 2 pick next year, followed by freshman point guard Andrew Harrison at No. 8, sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein at No. 16 and sophomore forward Alex Poythress at No. 28.
Freshmen Dakari Johnson, Aaron Harrison and James Young are projected to go 21-23 in 2015.
With so much pro talent, NBA scouts have joked that they will be renting apartments in Lexington this year to assess Calipari’s latest crop of one- and two-and-doners.
The Wildcats have been picked as the preseason No. 1 team by numerous publications and outlets, and are expected to challenge for Calipari’s second NCAA championship in three years.
The 2011-12 team may actually serve as an accurate reference point for this year’s team since that team had older leaders in Darius Miller, Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones to complement the freshmen sensations Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague. In addition to all the talented frosh, this year’s Kentucky squad also has some older leaders in Cauley-Stein, Poythress and seniors Jarrod Polson and Jon Hood.
Will Kentucky go undefeated, as some have wondered? Probably not given its schedule. But we should know a lot more about the Cats after they face Michigan State (Nov. 12), North Carolina (Dec. 14) and arch-rival Louisville (Dec. 28) in the first couple months of the season.
Between them, Calipari’s Kentucky program and Rick Pitino’s Louisville outfit have won the last two national championships and it wouldn’t surprise us if those two ended up fighting it out for the crown in 2014.
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