|ESPN.com: Dick Vitale||[Print without images]|
|The returns of Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein will give Kentucky an experienced frontcourt in 2014-15.|
When have you seen a college basketball team with nine McDonald's All-Americans on the roster?
I know that when I was coaching, I would be thrilled to have one McDonald's All-American. Imagine how the fans of Big Blue Nation feel, having nine of them for the 2014-15 season!
Kentucky fans and coach John Calipari have to be on cloud nine. The Wildcats were ecstatic to have twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison come back, along with Alex Poythress, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee and Willie Cauley-Stein. To that group of players, Calipari is adding an incredible incoming recruiting class, including Karl Towns Jr., Trey Lyles, Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis.
I firmly believe that this will be the most talented Kentucky squad to ever take the court.
I already hear the critics asking, "How is Calipari going to handle all of those guys?" The magical word "minutes" is being thrown around, and observers are wondering how all of these talented players can mesh as a unit and be happy with their roles.
Forget about worrying about playing time. Calipari has a doctorate in the psychology of coaching. He will get into the minds of the players and convince them to be competitive in practice to earn time. Practice is going to be a battle, and with that hard work, players will get better and better.
They will be facing more talent in practice than in many of their games.
Last season, the young Wildcats players learned to play for the name on the front of the jersey instead of the one on the back of it. The Harrison twins went through a roller-coaster ride during parts of the season, but saw their stock rise at the end. Then they made one big play after another in the tournament.
I firmly believe they will be able to show more consistency as sophomores. The extra season of college play will make them better.
Kentucky could put a lineup on the court that has as much size as any NBA team. Cauley-Stein provides a shot-blocker with experience. I have kidded him that his performances have been a tease; one minute he is dynamite, the next he is inconsistent.
Poythress was a vital factor off the bench in the tournament, providing a spark. He showed a physical toughness that made a difference.
With all that talent, it will be very tough to beat Kentucky. They are firmly in place as my preseason No. 1 pick.
While I believe that they will not be denied, here is a little warning: The best team doesn't always cut down the nets at the Final Four. This is not the NBA, where it would be nearly impossible to beat the Cats in a best-of-seven series. On any given night, if Kentucky's shooting is off, you never know. If an opponent is on fire shooting the trifecta, it could be upset city, baby!
The big banner should end up in Lexington, but Kentucky will have to go out and earn it. The parts are in place to do just that.