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Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: April NBA decisions bring Big Blue Nation apprehension

The defection of Kentucky Wildcats to the NBA has become an annual rite of Spring and so is the ensuing Big Blue freak out.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

If you have been on Twitter or any other social media this week, you have seen the fallout from the NBA announcements by Bam Adebayo and Hamidou Diallo. It is full fledged “the sky is falling” mode for the Big Blue Nation. The thrill of the 2012 National Title has worn off for some and while Kentucky fans are used to the annual reload, this year will represent an unusual challenge, even for John Calipari.

First off, no one should be shocked by the occurrences from yesterday. I don't think anyone really expected Bam Adebayo to return for his sophomore year, given that he looks to be a sure-fire first round pick. As for Diallo, I don't think it was a shock to anyone that he decided to test the waters and I fully expect him to return. NBA coaches know that John Calipari prepares players for the league and that he will get a heck more out of a season at Kentucky than toiling at the end of an NBA bench or in the D-League.

Keep in mind that the 2018 NBA Draft is considered to be a weak draft and that a season under Calipari will move him way up the draft boards. Expect him to hear this all month before returning to the Wildcats.

Even with Diallo on board, Calipari has a rough challenge. Even for him and his annual reloading and retooling of the roster, this will be his youngest team ever, and that has some people concerned about how far this team can go.

Calipari has done a lot with young players, but he’ll be fighting history next season. A team that looks like the 2017-18 Wildcats has never won a national title.

Complete remodeling jobs requiring freshmen to do everything hasn’t been the formula for winning it all, which remains the annual objective for UK fans. (Even if that ranks second to winning draft night, according to the head coach.)

The last 11 national champions returned at least one double-digit scorer from the previous year, and often more than one. Seventeen of the previous 18 champions had a returning double-digit scorer. The lone exception was Florida’s 2006 team, which did have its Nos. 4 through 9 scorers back from ’05.

And if anything, the recent trend has been even more weighted toward experience. The North Carolina team that just won the title had six of its top eight scorers back from the previous season. Villanova’s 2016 champions returned five of its top eight scorers from ’15. Freshmen impact players have been almost nonexistent the past two Final Fours.

It is articles like this that have many in the Big Blue Nation in a full-fledged freak out but like always, it's time to trust in Calipari. As we say this year (and every year), the best teams do not advance to the Final Four. And while it would be a historic feat for this team to do so, the talent is there as the Wildcats could be one of the most talented teams in the country. Even writers like Gary Parrish, who is a Calipari critic, can see this.

My point: Even when UK's young teams "struggle" they tend to finish impressively.

So the bottom line is this: Kentucky will be younger and more inexperienced than ever next season. And history suggests that'll lead to a rough stretch here or there where everybody starts to question whether Calipari is maximizing his top-ranked recruiting class. Then, more than likely, the Wildcats will grow into a team that guards well and overwhelms most opponents with talent and athleticism. And that's when they'll start again being discussed as a serious Final Four threat, which is what they've been in seven of the past eight years under Calipari almost regardless of which players are coming or going.

In the end, this has become the new normal for Kentucky basketball fans and in most cases, Calipari’s teams have not disappointed. Granted, winning the national title is the toughest feat in sports and they have just the one ring to show for it. However, like moist years, this team will be in the hunt for a Final Four by March. And that is all you can expect year in and year out.

I admit I am a bit apprehensive at this time, but a commitment from Cam Johnson and his 11.9 points and 41.5 three-point shooting will make me feel a heck of a lot better.