Kentucky Baskeball: Ranking the Wildcats

Some ridiculously early pre-season college team rankings are out.  Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports and Andy Katz of ESPN have weighed, measured and found the Kentucky Wildcats wanting -- at least when it comes to the top ten.

First Jeff Goodman:

18. KENTUCKY

Record: 35-3 (Elite Eight)
Lose: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton, Ramon Harris, Perry Stevenson
Key Returnees: Darius Miller, DeAndre Liggins, Darnel Dodson, Jon Hood
Newcomers: Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter, Doron Lamb, Stacey Poole

Talk about a dramatic change in personnel. The Wildcats lost five guys to the NBA draft, but UK has reloaded with a terrific freshman class led by Knight — one of the most talented guards in the country. The key, however, could be Kanter — a 6-foot-9 Turkish kid who could be a force in the paint.

I think Goodman gets this mostly right, and I would rank the 'Cats around #17 or #18.  Of course, Goodman later noted in a Twitter comment that this is based on the presumption that Terrence Jones does in fact matriculate to the Washington Huskies.  We'll have more on Jones later.

Moving on to Andy Katz, he sees the 2010-11 Wildcats thus:

13. Kentucky: This could be a reach. I don't dispute that argument. John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton are all gone. You might be asking why I'm not punting Kentucky from my top 25 all together? Well, the recent history of UK and that of John Calipari at Memphis tells us not to assume demise when a reshuffling of talent occurs. Sure there is a talent drop off, but the return of key role players like Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins and a stellar recruiting class led by Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter (assuming he doesn't run into a major suspension for amateur issues), Stacey Poole and Doron Lamb means the Cats will be able to compete with any team in the country. The newcomers don't have as much star power as this past season's freshman class, but the talent is still headline quality. Kanter is the key. If he is good to go by SEC play at the latest, Big Blue should be right in the thick of the race.

Katz mentions Kanter just as Goodman does, and for good reasons.  Without Kanter, Kentucky will have almost no measurable low-post presence other than Josh Harrellson, and that would be a difficult situation for the Wildcats.

I do think Katz goes out more on a limb than Goodman does, but not by a great deal.  It is quite possible for next year's young Kentucky team to wander in and out of the top ten from time to time, as talented as they are.  But my feeling, as apparently with Katz and Goodman also, is that those stays will likely be short and infrequent, if they happen at all.

And now to the matter of Terrence Jones.  Terrence is still apparently unsure what school he will be attending, although signs suggest that he has not changed his intentions to go to Washington as of now.

So people are beginning to ask the question, "What happens if the deadline for signing an LOI on May 19th comes and goes?"  Well, the answer is, nothing.  Jones can just show up and play for whatever team is willing to offer him a scholarship.  He could also sign financial aid agreements with as many teams as he wants, and then pick one at his leisure.  The aid agreements are binding on the school, but not on the player.

So there we are.  You are up to date with the major developments of the day.

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