Cal believes UK class just fine even without Wiggins
Posted: Thursday, May 16, 2013 7:00 pm
By GARY GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — The pending arrival of eight heralded newcomers has allowed Kentucky coach John Calipari to quickly move on after losing out on top recruit Andrew Wiggins.
Calipari is confident his large recruiting class will mesh and have the Wildcats back in national championship contention.
Calipari acknowledges the challenge of melding the skills of another talented group of freshmen, one featuring six McDonald’s All-Americans.
Kentucky’s latest recruiting class is considered the best in school history, ratcheting expectations of a ninth national championship next season.
Wiggins was considered the final piece for a Wildcats’ title run, but the nation’s top-rated player committed to Kansas Tuesday.
Still, Calipari’s believes his class will be successful because junior Kyle Wiltjer and sophomores Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress return to provide experience and leadership for the rookies.
His only caveat: expecting too much from his 13-man roster, especially after Kentucky (21-12) missed last season’s NCAA tournament with a highly touted foursome.
“It’s been laid out for them,” Calipari said Wednesday of the expectations. “Now, the question is, will we all have the patience? Will I have the patience?
“There’s no choice. It may be ugly early and we’re playing good teams early. The point is by the end of the year, we have the talent, the size, the toughness, the skill set. … How we bring this team together will be the challenge of this.”
Calipari eagerly embraces the mission because of the depth of talent he has attracted.
Leading Kentucky’s latest group of All-Americans are 6-foot-5 twin guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison; forwards Marcus Lee and Julius Randle; guard James Young; and center Dakari Johnson. Joining them are in-state players Derek Willis, a 6-foot-9 post player, and guard Dominique Hawkins, the consensus choice as Kentucky’s top prep player.
Besides being among the nation’s best at their positions, the versatility of each one could help address several problem areas for the Wildcats.
Published in The Messenger 5.16.13