Tuesday November 4th, 2014

Kentucky coach John Calipari was at a high altitude when he came up with a solution to his high-end problem: how to keep a roster filled with nine McDonald’s All-Americans happy. The answer: a two-platoon system.

Calipari tested his idea during a summer exhibition tour in the Bahamas. Ten Wildcats played between 17.8 and 21.0 minutes per game, and Kentucky went 5–1 against high-caliber teams that included pros. Still, Calipari points out that “this isn’t communism.” If certain players separate themselves from the group, their playing time will increase accordingly. The mostly likely candidate to max out minutes is 6-foot-11 freshman Karl-Anthony Towns, who was the team’s second-leading scorer (11.0 points per game) and rebounder (6.5) on the Bahamas trip.

This year’s group will benefit from the leadership of juniors Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein, as well as twin sophomore guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison, who each reduced his body fat to 4 percent (from 16 percent) over the summer. “I know we’re going to lose some early games, and there’s going to be a lot of grief,” Calipari says, but he’ll stick with his platoons “as long as I can.” One way or another, in the end Kentucky will again be flying high.

Read all of SI.com's 2014-15 college basketball preview content

Projected top seven scorers

name pos class ppg rpg apg o-rating
Aaron Harrison G So 11.4 3.1 1.5 122.3
Karl Towns, Jr. G Fr 10.3 6.1 0.7 115.2
Andrew Harrison G So 9.5 3.2 2.9 113.9
Alex Poythress F Jr 7.8 4.7 0.6 119.5
Tyler Ulis G Fr 7.6 1.7 2.7 110.3
Dakari Johnson F So 7.6 4.7 0.5 120.2
Willie Cauley-Stein F Jr 7.5 5.7 0.8 122.6

Projected SEC standings

rank team projected conf. record 2013-14 conf. record
1 Kentucky 15-3 12-6
2 Florida 14-4 18-0
3 Arkansas 11-7 10-8
4 LSU 10-8 9-9
5 Mississippi 9-9 9-9
6 Alabama 9-9 7-11
7 Georgia 8-10 12-6
8 South Carolina 8-10 5-13
9 Texas A&M 8-10 8-10
10 Auburn 8-10 6-12
11 Tennessee 8-10 11-7
12 Missouri 7-11 9-9
13 Vanderbilt 6-12 7-11
14 Mississippi State 5-13 3-15

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