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Will answers start coming today on 2013-14 Kentucky roster?

uk basketball logoBy LARRY VAUGHT

This could be the day that Kentucky’s 2013-14 basketball roster starts taking a more definite shape. From the time UK’s season ended with a NIT loss at Robert Morris, speculation has been rampant about who will — and who will not — be on John Calipari’s team next season.

Calipari has seven incoming freshmen — Aaron and Andrew Harrison, James Young, Marcus Lee, Derek Willis, Dakari Johnson and Julius Randle — that will definitely be on the roster. That leaves six more available scholarships.

It seems obvious that Madison Central’s Dominique Hawkins, who led Central to the state title and could well be named Mr. Basketball today, would commit if given a scholarship offer from UK. Calipari watched him three times at the state tourney and made a trip to Richmond to see him this week. Hawkins has called UK his dream school and has been told he’ll learn today if UK has a scholarship for him — and remember he plays with the toughness that Calipari felt his team lacked this year.

Calipari also made a trip to Huntington, W.Va., Thursday to see Andrew Wiggins, the nation’s top-ranked prep player who has been compared to players like LeBron James and John Wall at the same age. He’s down to UK, North Carolina, Florida State and Kansas.

If Hawkins gets a scholarship offer, it could mean that Wiggins is not coming to UK. If Hawkins doesn’t get an offer, it could mean Wiggins has let Calipari know he’s not coming. But what if Calipari offers Hawkins and also maybe knows he is going to land Wiggins? That would give UK nine freshmen — all on scholarship — and leave just four available scholarships.

It’s a given Nerlens Noel will opt for the NBA draft despite his season-ending knee injury and mid-March knee surgery. He’s still going to be at least a top five pick and that’s too much money to ignore.

Sophomore Kyle Wiltjer has been the subject of transfer rumors after not playing as well this season as fans hoped or he hoped. However, several sources close to the team said Wiltjer has made no mention of transferring and another source who knows the family says his parents have not mentioned anything about a transfer, either.

Freshmen Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin have all been projected as first-round draft picks on some mock drafts. However, only Cauley-Stein seems assured of going that high — and even analysts like Ed Isaacson of NBADraftBlog.com insist he could help himself by returning to school.

If all three come back and Wiltjer stays, that’s four scholarship to go with the seven known freshmen. That makes 11 scholarships for next year out of the 13 available.

Point guard Ryan Harrow, who started his career at North Carolina State, had a horrible end to the season. He lacked the toughness Calipari wanted from his point guard. Will he be back? My instinct says no.

What about Jarrod Polson? The junior originally came to UK as a walk-on player, but he’s been on scholarship for three seasons. He was a productive player and reliable for relief that Harrow that was needed far more often than Calipari ever imagined.

“He wants to come back. He would love to finish his career as a Wildcat,” George Polson, the player’s father, said.

However, sources at UK seem to indicate that the odds of him retaining a scholarship offer could be slim — another sign that Hawkins and/or Wiggins will be joining the roster. Apparently he’s not had a meeting with Calipari yet about his future and maybe he would rethink his position about staying on the team as a walk-on.

Then there’s Jon Hood. He has a redshirt year left and, like Polson, would like to return. Both are graduating in May and both turned down a chance to go through UK’s Senior Day in March because they want to be back. However, sources at UK again have indicate there is a strong chance there might not be room for Hood on the roster.

Perhaps Hood and/or Polson could be graduate assistant coaches. Perhaps both will become walk-ons. Perhaps Wiggins and/or Hawkins won’t pick UK and one or two other players could enter the draft along with Noel.

But Kentucky’s young team could use some veteran leadership next season. Don’t underestimate the value of having a Polson and/or Hood to tell teammates where classes are, what to do on campus, where to eat, where to shop, how to interact with fans, who to trust, who to avoid. Seems insignificant in some ways, but remember Calipari had players like Patrick Patterson, Ramon Harris, Josh Harrellson and Darius Miller around before to help talented freshmen.

So who will be on the roster?
Givens — Lee, Harrison twins, Johnson, Young, Willis, Randle, Wiltjer.
Likely — Poythress, Goodwin.
Maybe — Cauley-Stein, Hawkins, Wiggins.
Want to be — Polson, Hood.

That’s 15 — and two over the scholarship limit. Cauley-Stein to the NBA could free one scholarship. Hood as a graduate assistant could free another scholarship. Or maybe Calipari doesn’t offer Hawkins or Wiggins picks North Carolina.
Just remember the numbers always work out and starting today we could find out just what that is going to mean this year.

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  1. Pacman

    We need senior leadership. Polson needs to stay on the roster. I still say if scholarships are 1 year renewable Polson earned his last year. At least 2 guys didnt do enough to keep theirs. As a last resort maybe Willis should “greyshirt” so that this team has some Senior leadership. We saw what can happen to individually talented players with no team leadership. The last game of the season (with a team that many said was the #1 recruiting class coming into the season) we were depending on Polson and Hood to make a play to try to get us back in the game… against Robert Morris. The only freshman that stepped up that game was Goodwin… and he still has a lot to learn. We need to at least keep Polson on the roster for leadership, toughness and pride of wearing the blue. He is an Anthony Epps type player with not as much athleticism but a winner.

    1. LindaS

      I want to see Polson stay, he is a Kentucky boy, he earned the right to be where he is. He looks and acts like a pg and he has the heart of a Wildcat. I have heard that his parents can afford the tuition if he came back without a scholarship. I don’t know if that is true, but I sure don’t want to lose him.
      I have heard Wiggins is a go. He will be on the team next year.
      Does Harrow deserve another chance is my question?

  2. Juan4UK

    WOW, in all of these no one has even mentioned Sam Malone, Long or Lanter. I know they are walk-ons if they stay. But since this talk has started, no one has mentioned them.
    Me personally, I like the role of walk-ons. And appreciate their effort and ability to accept their roles on teams. Thankless jobs for sure.
    It’s interesting that Cal will have a roster with a bunch of walk ons. Knowing that, in the past, he has avoided huge teams # wise.

  3. Bill Rice

    I believe Wiggans told Cal that he is coming to KY! Now Cal must talk to the rest of the team about their futures at KY or the NBA. After this is done, there will be a much clearer picture on available scholarships. As of yesterday these talks had not taken
    Now Hawkins must wait awhile longer(after spring break) to find out about UK! Oh what a great problem to have.

    1. Larry Pup

      I hope you are right about Wiggins Bill. I look for Kyle to transfer after talking with Coach I don’t see him getting much playing time next year if he stays. I think Ryan is off the team, but I don’t know if he transfers due to him transferring once already. Noel to NBA, Hawkins gets a ride, and Goodwin, Poythress, WCS, Polson and Hood stay on scholarship, that makes the 13 if my math is right. I will add, who knows. JMO.

  4. Kokamo Joe

    Clearly Calipari has a monster recruiting class. These players will be nucleus of next year’s team. I can’t see any remaining players starting over these talents.

    I cannot see Wiltjer playing much. Transfering could be a option for him.

    If Poythress and Goodwin stay Calipari could set these two up for major playing time and leadership when they are juniors. In order to do that Calipari must find a way for them to share playing time next year. Clearly they are recruited over next year. If Calipari recruits over them in 2015 their dreams of success in the NBA are shattered.

    Even though Calipari has branded his version of UK as “players first”, both Hood and Polson could lose their scholarships. Both of these young men got playing time this year because of Calipari’s very short bench. Talent is too deep next year for this duo to play much. If one or both stay on scholarship it will be through the goodness of Calipari’s heart rather than a need for their talent. When push comes to shove, need comes before purpose in big time basketball.

    Not only would Cauley-Stein have to compete with the 6-10 250 pound Johnson next year, but Calipari has already committed to a 7-1 center for the year after next year. If Johnson is all that he is advertised to be, Cauley-Stein would have to play second banana to him. He is projected to be a top ten draft pick. If he stays, his draft status next year may be lower. He will have to consider that.

    I hope that the Hawkins kid does commit, but only if Calipari intends to actually cultivate him so that by his junior year, the kid will actually compete. If his career is similar to that of Hood, then young man would be better off to go to another school. A weakness of the one and done system is that good, but not great players are always recruited over and they don’t get the opportunity to ever become starters. A kid with a Kentucky pedigree who seldom plays is a wasted talent.

  5. Ws

    This is a traveshamockery and you goofs dont event realize it.

    I am praying Wiggins does not come to UK. Enough is enough. Too many recruits already. What happens when Cal shoos some of the current players out the door or into the NBA before they are ready? Their careers will be ruined and recruits of the future will notice. A really bad reputation is brewing here and most UK fans speak nothing off it.
    Like greedy little hoarders of recruits taking no notice of the bigger problem this can create.

    1. LindaS

      Ws, you calling us goofs? Who do you think you are? How many banners does your school have? How many All-Americans? Sounds like you are a little jealous. Did your team ever have a player leave and give $500k for scholarships when he signed his shoe contract? Did your school ever have a player who received more awards then any other college player in history?
      Did you know UK is the most loved program around the WORLD? Did you know it is the most search program on the internet? Geez! I feel so bad for you…not!
      Maybe if your coach or school had the talent to recruit the best of the best you would not feel this way, poor little baby. You want some cheese with your whine?
      John Walls career ruined? DeMarcus Cousins career ruined? Anthony Davis, MKG, Brandon Knight? Where is the first one whose career is or will be ruined?
      If the NBA would change their thinking about the one and dones there would be no need for this discussion.
      I hate little wanna be jealous wimps.
      Wiggins is coming and more then likely so is Hawkins…I guess you are about to throw up now, uh? Ah, poor baby, just so upset because he can’t get his way and UK takes the best of the best and turns them into men and ball players.
      Go Big Blue…We Are UK…Basketball Royalty…Roman Empire of Basketball…should I continue or have you heard enough.
      Signed, Evil Twin Sister

      1. larryvaught

        Evil Linda, so glad to have you back

        1. LindaS

          Not Evil Linda, Evil Twin Sister!

    2. Gene T.

      You must not be a UK fan. How do you turn down the #1 recruit. Every coach in America would take him.

  6. Jim Boyers

    This situation will work itself out. Scholarship issues always do.

    UK isn’t the program with questions. All of our opponents (like whatever team Ws roots for) are the ones who will be asking: What the hell are we going to do against these guys?

    Ws, I am sorry that your team lost last night or will lose within the next couple of days, whichever is the case. It can’t be easy to be the fan of a losing team, when you didn’t win the title last season and aren’t going to win it next season, like UK. Thanks for giving this site your traffic though. It will help to continue the great work Larry is doing.

  7. Matt Slone

    Please remind me to “Never-Ever” make Linda S’ Evil Twin Sister mad at me!!! You did set him strait though!! I want to see Wiggins come too… had a chance to watch him play in Boyd County, KY gym this Christmas. You can see he is a very special player. Once in a generation may be a bit strong here, but, I’d sure like to see him wearing the Big Blue next year!!!
    Thanks Larry!! Happy belated B.Day!! This next month promises to be very interesting indeed!

    Go Big Blue!!!

  8. Larry Pup

    I knew the “Evil Twin Sister” would not let that go unchallenged. AMEN Right There!!!!!

  9. LindaS

    Evin Twin sister has been quite for some time now, however, Ws just really ticked her off today! Matt you won’t have to worry unless you do something against the solemn rules of the BBN! Larry, you were expecting it? LOL

  10. Karen Sprinkle

    Patience, grasshoppers…. The answers to all questions will be coming soon…. :-)

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