Kentucky Basketball: Where we are in the big picture

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There are a ton of UK sites that has recruiting as their raison d'être, and A Sea of Blue is not among them.  That isn't to say that we don't pay attention or care about recruiting -- we do -- but our purpose here is to offer opinion and analysis of the facts surrounding Kentucky sports, provide opportunity for members and readers to comment on, or think about, or to post their own thoughts about in the FanPosts.

We don't get too caught up in recruiting because we simply don't have the resources necessary to cover it effectively, and we aren't trying to compete with those that do.  Instead, what we try to do here is analyze what the recruiting news we receive might mean to Kentucky, and offer insights about how the players might be utilized, what we can expect, etc.  Of course, all of that is just opinion, and we want that to be understood.

With that in mind, I want to briefly look at where Kentucky is roster-wise, and what is/may be happening to change that over the coming year or so.  Right now, UK has it's full allotment of scholarships offered and accepted, so our roster for 2008-2009 looks like this:

Name Position Class
Darius Miller SF Freshman
Kevin Gallow CG/SF Junior
Michael Porter CG Junior
A.J. Stewart CF Sophomore
Perry Stevenson PF Junior
Ramon Harris SF Junior
Jodie Meeks SG/SF Junior
Matt Pilgrim PF Sophomore
DeAndre Liggins PG Freshman
Jared Carter C Senior
Patrick Patterson PF Sophomore
Josh Harrellson PF/C Sophomore
Donald Williams CG Freshman

This is our full compliment of 13 scholarships allowed by NCAA rules.  As you can see, we are very heavy in the forward position with only one true center and one true point guard.  We have 4 combo guards who are capable of playing either position (DeAndre Liggins could probably fit into this category as well, but in the current lineup, I don't expect to see him there).  Kevin Galloway could also play point guard, but in my opinion, I don't think you will see him there much, if at all.

For next year, we will be losing two players -- one for certain and one to early entry.  I don't think there is any way barring an injury or a sophomore slump that Patrick Patterson stays for his junior year.  After having one injury requiring surgical intervention, I think the will not want to risk his future on another, and assuming he is a lock for a first-round pick, I fully expect him to declare for the draft.

That will leave two scholarships available for next year, barring transfer.  Right now, we have both those scholarships filled for 2009-10 by G.J. Villarino and John Hood.  Marc Maggard has assured us that Donald Williams' offer is only for this year, and that he will not have a scholarship next year.  I have made the only comments I will make about that scenario here, and for the purposes of this article, I am going to assume that is actually the case.  Also for the purposes of this article, I am going to assume that fact will lead Williams to transfer to another school.

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Given all this, it looks like we will have a third scholarship available for 2009-10, and right now, a reasonable person would conclude that scholarship is being held for Daniel Orton, which would give us a full compliment for 2009-10.  Essentially, we would be trading Patterson, Carter and Williams for Villarino, Hood and Orton.  In that scenario, we would address two needs -- one at point guard and one at center.  We would theoretically return a much older group of forwards and guards, and that team would likely be a highly-ranked bunch capable of making a deep run into March.

Now, I am not casting aspersions on this year's team -- they may well wind up playing late in the spring as well, but right now, we just don't know enough about the newcomers to make that kind of judgment.  But next year, barring defections and injuries, UK will have a senior-laden team with tons of leadership potential and some extremely talented newcomers to add depth.

All this leads me to believe that the future of Kentucky basketball is very bright, indeed.  Of course, there are any number of things that could happen to derail this rosy scenario, but if we are fortunate, we could wind up with a realistic contender for another national championship as soon as next year.

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