By Jon Rothstein
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1. MASS AUGMENTATION
There were many changes to the game of Terrence Jones since the end of last season but perhaps none more than Jones’ overall frame. The 6-foot-9 lefty forward has added at least 20 pounds of muscle as he hopes to make his sophomore season in Lexington a memorable one. Playing a renewed focus and an obvious killer instinct, look for Jones to be a strong candidate for both SEC Player of the Year and First-Team All-American.
2. DAVIS’ POTENTIAL DOMINANCE
You have to see Anthony Davis in person to truly appreciate how special he is. Long and skilled at 6-foot-11, the Chicago native sports a handle tighter than most perimeter players and has an innate ability to alter shots at the rim like maybe no other player at the college level. Think Marcus Camby with more creativity on offense.
3. THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist may be the one player that Kentucky coach John Calipari feels he can never afford to take off the floor because everything he does affects one thing — winning. Fierce and ultra competitive, the 6-foot-7 freshman can guard up to five positions and has a mean streak that adds an extra element of nastiness. The former St. Patrick’s star also showed significantly more polish on offense than he did when his high school career concluded last March.
4. ALL SIGNS “POINT” TO LAMB
Marquis Teague is the next in line to take over Calipari’s tradition of talented point guards but who backs him up is a major question. North Carolina State transfer Ryan Harrow is a capable ball handler but won’t be eligible until the 2012-13 season. With no other true floor general on the roster, look for sophomore Doron Lamb to take over regular point guard responsibilities when Teague isn’t in the game for the Wildcats.
5. MIX AND MATCH
Unlike last year’s Kentucky team that reached the Final Four, this group has different options in how they can play. Calipari now has the resources now to play big or small, powerful or quick, depending on the opponent. Our guess is he’ll spend the better part of the non-conference schedule figuring out the best way to play and have it refined for the start of the SEC.
There’s no questioning that this group of Wildcats has the potential to be Calipari’s most talented team ever. Davis, Jones, Gilchrist, and Teague are all likely first round picks in 2012 while Lamb and Kyle Wiltjer are candidates to join them. The one player that people can’t forget is Darius Miller — last year’s SEC Tournament MVP. The 6-foot-7 swing man looked primed for a monster senior season and should bridge the gap nicely between Kentucky’s veterans and their talented four-man freshman class.
Thoughts on the Wildcats? Leave a comment below.