November 06, 2012
Top 25 Team Previews
Kentucky Wildcats
2011-12 Record: 38-2 (16-0 in SEC)
Head Coach: John Calipari
Kyle Wiltjer: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
2011-12 Stats
Scoring 77.4 1
Defense 60.6 2
FG% .488 1
FT% .723 1
3FG% .378 3
Stop us if you've heard this one before: John Calipari's Kentucky team will be among the most talented in the country, but the big question is whether the Wildcats are too young to go all the way. The storyline is the same for a fourth straight season -- with one twist. Last year's team closed the deal, giving Calipari his first NCAA title. Only one contributor from that team returns, but the Cats have reloaded with yet another top-ranked recruiting class. Can Calipari repeat?

The Wildcats must replace player of the year and No. 1 pick Anthony Davis as well as first-rounder Terrence Jones. That's a tall order, but Calipari took his best shot. In comes the nation's No. 1 recruit, 6-foot-10 Nerlens Noel, who is said to be a better shot-blocker than Davis. Calipari also landed Willie Cauley-Stein, who is athletic enough that he played wide receiver in high school. Coach Cal will also use his top returning player and sharpest three-point shooter, 6-9 power forward Kyle Wiltjer. Projected top-10 pick and McDonald's All-American Alex Poythress rounds out the ranks.

To replace a draft depleted backcourt, Calipari brought in McDonald's All-American Archie Goodwin for scoring, Wright State transfer Julius Mays for depth, and he finally has a non-freshman point guard in Ryan Harrow. The last five guys to run Calipari's offense were one-and-dones. Harrow, a transfer from NC State who sat out last season at UK and has three years of eligibility left, will be an interesting change.

Goodwin impressed all summer and will start from Day 1, while Mays, a senior who began his career at NC State and led Wright State in scoring, assists and steals last season, offers not only a versatile backup but also a veteran presence.

John Calipari has done it again, reeling in a fourth consecutive No. 1 recruiting class, headlined by four consensus top-40 prospects, plus senior transfer Julius Mays from Wright State. Mays should be a much-needed veteran role player, while Noel, Poythress and Goodwin are almost certain starters. Cauley-Stein will also play plenty.

With three straight Elite Eights, back-to-back Final Fours and a national title, Kentucky is enjoying its finest stretch since reaching three consecutive NCAA title games -- winning twice -- from 1996-98. Calipari is the king of reloading, but is repeating a fair expectation? The guys who just helped UK win it all and have been back to watch the Cats work out this summer seem to think the next group will make another run. "I'm really impressed," Miller says. "They're going to have a really good team and everybody's going to enjoy watching them."


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