Head coach John Calipari brought Kentucky to the mountaintop last season, winning his first national championship and the school's eighth thanks largely to a group of super freshmen that all decided to leave for the NBA after cutting down the nets. With that kind of loss in talent, it was imperative that Calipari recruit well again ... and he did just that. With No. 1 overall recruit Nerlens Noel leading the way, the Wildcats boast the nation's top overall class in Scout's rankings. But is another title run in the cards? Evan Daniels breaks it down.
Kentucky last year: 38-2 overall, 16-0 in SEC, won national championship
Scout.com class rank: 1
Full recruiting class: Nerlens Noel, C; Archie Goodwin, SG; Alex Poythress, SF; Willie Cauley, C
Best player of the class: Nerlens Noel. As the nation's top prospect, Noel is expected to have an immediate impact for the Wildcats. In fact, Noel could potentially make a run at Anthony Davis' shot-blocking record. An elite defender, Noel has terrific timing, length and can block shots equally with both hands.
The one that got away: Shabazz Muhammad is the easy choice here. The No. 2 prospect in the 2012 class had narrowed his list of schools down to UK, Duke and UCLA. While UCLA was the favorite, some thought UK made a strong run at him after a visit. In the end, Muhammad went with the Bruins after a long recruiting process.
What to expect from them next year: Kentucky's incoming class doesn't have a choice, it has to play. With six players leaving for the NBA or graduation, Kentucky wasn't left with many bodies. Noel, Goodwin and Poythress can help them immediately. Noel's impact will be on defense, while Goodwin and Poythress will lead the scoring attack.
Will live up to the hype because ...: With three prospects rated among the top 20 players in the nation, Kentucky has quite the group. We've discussed Noel's defensive dominance, but Poythress is a rapidly improving wing that has elite athleticism and a very good-looking jump shot. On top of that, Goodwin fits into the dribble-drive offense and Cauley, while it may take a year to see, is full of potential.
Won't live up to the hype because ...: Expectations are high at Kentucky. Coming off a national championship that was anchored by freshmen, Kentucky fans may expect a similar run. Obviously there's some serious talent headed to Lexington, but they lost quite a bit in the off-season. The Cats needed one or two more impact guys in the 2012 class to put their 2012-2013 team in the title talk conversation.
In their words: "I just thought it was the place for me. I can go there and develop myself and be able to play under coach Calipari. I think it was the best place for me to fulfill my dream." -- Nerlens Noel
"I just wanted to go to a place where I can get better and a place I feel comfortable at. I’ve just been thinking about it for a while and it just kind of clicked." -- Alex Poythress
"Kentucky just fit me as a basketball player and as a person. I feel like I'm apart of another family." -- Archie Goodwin
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