The 2012 NBA Draft left behind the skeleton of a University of Kentucky basketball roster that was the most talented in college basketball last season.
Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones and Marquis Teague were all selected in the first round of the 2012 Draft, and sophomore Doron Lamb and senior Darius Miller were scooped up in the second round. The fire sale infused some young SEC talent in the NBA, but it left Kentucky basketball in desperate need of a leader.
The Wildcats are 6-3 this season, and all three losses were by nine points or more. Most of their six wins were against inferior programs. With No. 6 Louisville, No. 5 Florida and No. 12 Missouri all slated for action against Kentucky in the next two-plus months, the Wildcats will need a star to emerge.
Kentucky doesn’t have a 20-point scorer, and while the Wildcats boast five players averaging at least 10 points per game, only two players are scoring more than 15 per contest. There is no separation on the roster, and therein lies the problem. Kentucky needs someone to step up.
Twany Beckham and Julius Mays are the only two seniors on the team. Mays is fifth on the team in scoring with 10 points per game, but Beckham rarely sees the floor, meaning some of Kentucky’s younger talent has to take the team on their shoulders.
Freshman Archie Goodwin can be that talent. He’s leading the team with 16.4 points per game, and he’s added 5.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists per contest. Goodwin has also been Kentucky’s most consistent player, having scored less than 13 points just once this season.
Fellow freshman Alex Poythress may be the key piece of the puzzle, though. Poythress scored 20 points and added eight rebounds in Kentucky’s loss to Duke on Nov 13, and he followed that game with three more 20-point performances. If Poythress and Goodwin can be consistent going forward, Kentucky may have a core in place to compete with some of the more talented teams in the country.
As with any rebuilding process, new pieces need to learn to mesh, and it will take more than a month for that cohesion to take place. Still, if the Wildcats are to return to dominance in the SEC, they need their young talent to fully emerge and take hold of a team learning how to play at the college level. They need a star.
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