Kentucky Basketball: Wildcats Most Likely to Make All-SEC Team
The 2014-15 version of Kentucky basketball is filled with star power and a deep roster. Sure, the Wildcats lost an All-American in Julius Randle and a dynamic scorer in James Young, but they reload with four more McDonald's All-Americans joining the roster.
With a rotation that could go 10 deep, it will be a science for head coach John Calipari to find minutes for everyone deserving. With that, there could be a drop in all players' averages, whether it's fewer shot attempts or fewer minutes to pad rebounding numbers.
While the SEC isn't regarded as the best basketball conference in the country, there are plenty of players in the league this season who can compete for SEC Player of the Year honors. Don't be surprised if someone comes out of the blue to win that award like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope did from Georgia in 2013.
That player could come from Kentucky as well. This slideshow, though, will take a look at the Wildcats most likely to make the All-SEC team in 2014-15.
Aaron Harrison is going to be looked at as the go-to scorer for Kentucky when the 2014-15 season starts. Following an impressive freshman campaign that saw him average close to 14 points per game, his ability to score should be improved as a sophomore.
With a more balanced roster, teams will be less likely to focus their attention on Harrison, allowing him better looks at the hoop from outside. His size (6'6", 218 lbs) allows him to bully smaller shooting guards in the paint, something that Harrison started doing toward the end of last season.
Coupled with his impressive defense (one of the best perimeter defenders the Wildcats have), Harrison should be expected to see a majority of the minutes this season. Playing that many minutes should allow Harrison to put up impressive numbers on what should be the favorite to win the conference title.
If Harrison can improve on his averages of 13.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game, there's no reason he can't explode into Player of the Year conversations.
Ceiling: SEC Player of the Year, First-Team All-SEC
Much like his brother, Andrew Harrison is expected to use the momentum from last season to improve as a sophomore.
After struggling to find his style of play in the early part of the year, Andrew Harrison surged to the point guard everyone expected him to be as March rolled around. His assists started to increase as his turnovers became limited. Also, his shooting percentage increased as he began to attack the rim more and used his mid-range game to his advantage.
He's hands down the best point guard in the SEC this year with nemesis Scottie Wilbekin graduating. There's no doubt there's a target on his back from opposing point guards, but with a year of experience under his belt, don't be surprised to see Andrew Harrison thrive under Calipari this season.
His minutes could be cut with incoming freshman Tyler Ulis impressing everyone in the summer. As a change-of-pace guard, Ulis is more defense-oriented and more of a traditional point guard as opposed to Andrew Harrison.
Ceiling: First-Team All-SEC
How can a freshman come in and compete for a spot on the All-SEC team? Easy. Be 7'1", dribble and shoot like a guard while rebounding and block shots like a center.
Towns, the reigning Gatorade National Player of the Year, should have the inside track to start at the power forward position this season for the Wildcats. He should also be somewhat familiar with Calipari's style after playing for him on the Dominican Republic national team when Towns was just 15 years old.
Expect him to be a playmaker from the very first game, much like Anthony Davis, John Wall and Brandon Knight were at Kentucky. There's no reason Towns can't put up a couple double-double games; he did average one in high school.
Even with a crowded frontcourt, don't be shocked to see Towns steal a majority of minutes at the power forward position. His ability to stretch the floor, something needed in Calipari's dribble-drive offense, will allow players like Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Willie Cauley-Stein and Trey Lyles to dominate the post. Also, if opposing teams run a zone against the Wildcats, Towns will be needed on the floor for his shooting.
Ceiling: Rookie of the Year, Second-Team All-SEC