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Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: A Quick Snapshot of the 2015/2016 Team

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What do the 'Cats have right now and what could they add?

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

John Calipari almost has his roster filled but there are some more players that he would like to add. What I want to provide here is a snapshot of the team right now and possible additions to the team and how those additions could fill gaps.

2015/2016 Starting Line-Up

Tyler Ulis- Point Guard

Isaiah Briscoe- Shooting Guard/Point Guard

Alex Poythress- Small Forward

Marcus Lee- Power Forward

Skal Labissiere- Center

It's been established that this is Tyler Ulis' team and I would be shocked if he doesn't start every game at point guard for the Wildcats and plays about 35 minutes per game. He's a floor general and about as pure of a point guard as there is in the country. Briscoe is the top ranked point guard in the class but I think that John Calipari is going to adjust his game to be more of a shooting guard to compliment Ulis. Briscoe lit up at the Jordan Brand Classic scoring 22 points, showcasing his ability to drive and finish at the rim as well as knock down jump shots. His shooting and shot selection needs work, but the 6'3 200 pounds guard is the perfect complement to Ulis and could make for a devastating dribble-drive backcourt.

Alex Poythress has played the wing in the past and I think he would fit in at that position. His jump shot needs improvement but I think we'll see that. Marcus Lee has shown flashes of how good he can be but he needs to develop post moves and more strength. This will be addressed and I think Lee will be spending a lot of time with Kenny Payne.

That leaves us with Skal. If you haven't watched him play then you are missing out. Skal isn't as raw as many make him out to be. He is a smooth, skilled player with a beautiful jump shot and, with work, could be an eraser on defense. He needs to bulk up, but what freshman big man doesn't? He can be a very special player at Kentucky and he is the type of young man that will buy in completely to whatever John Calipari wants him to do. Be excited.

2015/2016 Reserves

Dominique Hawkins- Point Guard/Shooting Guard

Charles Matthews- Shooting Guard/Small Forward

Derek Willis- Small Forward

EJ Floreal- Shooting Guard

As you can see, there isn't much left in the pantry after the starting five. It is true that Cal likes to work with a 6 to 8 man rotation, but the lack of another center is a bit worrisome (we will get to that in a bit). Derek Willis is going to have his opportunity to finally shine. If there is one thing that Kentucky lacks, its perimeter scoring and Willis is going to have to provide that.

Charles Matthews is an athletic talent that reminds me a lot of DeAndre Liggins. He is extremely athletic and versatile. He is listed as a shooting guard but I can see him logging minutes as a wing player. He has a great deal of talent and ability.

Dominique Hawkins is going to be important for this team with providing leadership and energy. He, like Willis, is going to have a big opportunity to log major minutes this season. We saw some progression on offense last season and we need to see that progression grow by leaps and bounds as he enters into his junior season.

Kentucky definitely has talent but depth is a major concern at the moment. The luxury of the platoon system (RIP, thankfully) is gone and Calipari is going to have a more traditional team. Guys are going to have to play more and they won't have to worry about minutes or looking over their shoulder every four minutes to see who is coming off of the bench.

With gaps needing to be filled, who is left for John Calipari to add to this team? With Stephen Zimmerman and Michael Thorne opting to play their basketball elsewhere, Cal doesn't have a lot of options left in this class as big men go. There are a couple of guys that could fill that role nicely and Cal needs to go all in to land at least one of them.

Remaining Recruits

Cheick Diallo- The 6'9, 225 pound power forward has been turning heads in the all-star game circuit. His relentless motor and impressive work ethic earned him MVP awards in the McDonald's All American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic. He was being recruited heavily by former Kentucky assistant Barry Rohrssen, but with his departure to St. John's to join friend Chris Mullins, many have put the Red Storm as the favorites. But Calipari just visited Diallo and the word is that Kentucky is making up major ground. Diallo is a Mali native and speaks French as does Skal Labissiere. Skal, along with Briscoe and Matthews, have been recruiting Diallo to come to Kentucky. Diallo was at the receiving end of some nifty assists from Briscoe at the Jordan Brand Classic and looked to enjoy playing with him. Kansas was the favorite for a long time but St. John's and Kentucky look to be the schools to beat at this time.

Malik Newman- Let me get this out now before I go on: I am not a big fan of Malik Newman. The more I watch him play the less impressed I am with his skills. He's a combo guard but I cannot see him playing point guard at the next level. He is billed as a scoring machine but most of his points seem to come from the outside but he doesn't really shoot the ball particularly well. He is a native Mississippian and momentum for him staying home to play for Ben Howland and Mississippi State is building. That's fine by me. He seems to be a player that needs the ball in his hands at all time, which he will get at a place like Mississippi State but not Kentucky. He isn't taking any official visits, which is a bit odd, he says he may just sign scholarship papers instead of a letter of intenet, and there are rumblings that he may play overseas in China. Don't get me wrong, I'm fine with it if he comes as Cal needs scoring, but I'm not sure Newman is the type of player that will really fit in with the culture at Kentucky.

Thon Maker- Maker was the top player in 2016 but then reclassified to the class of 2015. The 7'0 center would be the perfect addition to this team. He is skilled and Kentucky desperately needs rebounding and big bodies. Calipari has been hot on his trail for a long time and I really like Kentucky's chances with him. Right now Kansas seems to be Kentucky's main competition and Cheick Diallo's decision could have a major impact with what Maker intends to do.

Brandon Ingram- The 6'8 North Carolina native is an impressive wing player that can do major damage from the three point line. He is long, quick, and has the ability to go inside out. He will be a major asset to any team that lands him, but I'm not big on Kentucky's chances here. With the mass exodus from Duke and coach K's lack of freshmen at this time, Duke seems like the perfect fit for him. He makes his decision on April 27th and I wouldn't be surprised if he is a Blue Devil.

Mychal Mulder- I think this is pretty much a done deal, just waiting on the official announcement. Mulder is a JUCO shooting guard that has played Vincennes University. He would be eligible right away and would fill the need for a scoring guard/wing player. He averaged 15.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game at Vincennes this past season. He shot 44.7% from three point range and 80% at the free throw line. He would fill an immediate need and I think he would do a fine job. He just received the offer from Kentucky over the weekend and is set to visit soon and I would expect an announcement right after that.

Jaylen Brown- Ranked #2 overall in the 2015 class, Brown is a total mystery. He hasn't shown much favoritism as far as schools are concerned and he has kept his recruiting very quiet. The one thing that keeps being brought up is that he wants to play for an Adidas school and UCLA seems to be the favorite right now. But never count out Kentucky. Brown reminds me a lot of Stanley Johnson with his style of play. He is physical and likes to score driving at the rim and in transition. He would be a great addition at small forward and that could be Alex to his natural position at power forward.

A lot can happen between now and signing day. Recruiting is hard to predict and 17 year old kids could change their mind on a whim without logic or reason. Stay tuned in the next few weeks for major announcements.

Once everything is finalized I will have a detailed look at the roster and how each player fits into their roles next season.