By LARRY VAUGHT
With all the hype about John Calipari’s team, I asked Sporting News columnist Mike DeCourcy what it thought was the most underrated part of the team going into the season.
“I think it is the veteran core. I have heard a lot of people try to make the case that when Kyle Wiltjer decided to transfer to Gonzaga that this team now lacked leadership. I like Kyle and like his talent, but he wasn’t going to be a leader on this team,” DeCourcy said. “I think having Jarrod Polson, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein back is big.
“I like Jon Hood as a presence. He is a good kid. You are talking about him being a leader even though he is not playing, and that’s what role Kyle would have had. Jon can do that. He has been on every one of Cal’s teams at Kentucky. He knows what to tell the freshmen to do on and off the court. How much will they listen to him? No more or less than they would have Kyle. Kyle would not have been a big factor with this team.
“I think the real leadership has to come from Willie and Alex if he has mastered his position, and I think he will. I think Alex in terms of on court direction and do what I am doing, he can do that from a leadership standpoint. Kentucky is bringing back more people than they are being given credit for this year because of the failure of last year. Willie and Alex are both (NBA draft) first-round talent. The idea that because Kentucky failed last year they don’t have talent is ludicrous. Last year they just did not have a point guard, had chemistry issues and then had a major injury (to Nerlens Noel).”