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By LARRY VAUGHT
There could be a lot of things to worry about with Kentucky basketball for next season, especially with expectations being so high.
Will the pending transfer of Kyle Wiltjer be costly to UK because of his 3-point shooting? How much will UK miss his experience? How will the Cats blend together? Can Alex Poythress become the dominant player many expect? How much will Willie Cauley-Stein improve? Could Julius Randle be the nation’s best freshman?
But there’s one thing not to worry about — twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison along with James Young are going to be part of the team. No, they have not been on campus full-time like freshmen Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Randle, Derek Willis and Dominique Hawkins. However, there’s no reason to panic or over analyze what is wrong.
“The school year was longer for them. But the other thing is, they had some things to finish up academically,” UK coach John Calipari said earlier this week. “They’ll be fine and be here. But I’m excited about those three. I wish they would have been here for the eight-week (summer school session), but it’s happened before with Nerlens (Noel) and some other guys we’ve had (in previous years). They’ve had things to finish up, but they’re fine.”
Not every high school finishes the school year at the same time. That’s part of the problem with the trio. But there’s no reason to worry about their eligibility like Florida is having to do — and has admitted — with McDonald’s All-American Chris Walker right now. All three are going to be cleared to play and all three are going to play huge roles.
Each just has to finish a few things and various UK sources tell me they will all be part of next year’s team.
“If anyone remotely thinks those three will not be part of the team, they are very wrong,” one UK source said. “Everybody’s situation is different, but they are all going to be here and are all going to be fine.”
Kentucky needs all three players, too, because they will dramatically impact the Wildcats’ national championship season. Andrew Harrison is being counted on to be the next John Wall, Brandon Knight and Marquis Teague. He’s going to be Calipari’s point guard and will bring toughness and court savvy to the point that UK lacked last year.
Aaron Harrison and Young will need to be the outside shooting threats, especially with Wiltjer’s decision to apparently transfer. Both can do more than just shoot, but both will have to be able to hit outside shots open driving lanes for Andrew Harrison and give Poythress, Randle, Johnson and Cauley-Stein room to maneuver inside.
The Harrisons and Young probably wish they could have been on campus all summer. They have a bond with UK’s other freshmen from the postseason all-star games and have made it clear they want to be part of a special season at UK. And they will be — even if they are a bit later getting to campus than their freshmen teammates.