The University of Kentucky Wildcats is, historically, the most successful college basketball team ever. With the most total wins, 2,052 and counting, and the second most total national championships, seven, they have proven time and time again that they are the best. Even in 2012, the Wildcats remain on top. With their only loss coming back on Dec. 10 to Indiana, Kentucky is one point and a buzzer-beater three point attempt away from perfection, as their record is currently 22-1 and 8-0 in the Southeastern Conference.
As has been his style, Head Coach John Calipari returns this year with loads of talent. Calipari has had success at every school he has coached at, having previously coached 22 professional players throughout his time at the University of Massachusetts, Memphis University and Kentucky, including overall number one picks Derrick Rose (Memphis 2008) and John Wall (Kentucky 2010). He has become well-known for a recruiting style that is referred to as “one and done,” implying that the incoming freshmen will play the mandatory one year at the college level before turning professional.
Coming off of his third straight number one recruiting class, there are six freshmen on his roster, headlined by five-star recruits Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague and Kyle Wiltjer. This is nothing new for Calipari, as he signed four five star recruits in 2010 (Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones, Enes Kantor and Doron Lamb) as well as in 2009 (John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton). Many of these recruits have followed the “one and done” method, and thus Kentucky is always plagued by inexperience.
However, I believe that this year is different. The difference can be found by solely studying the roster. Take a step back into 2010, when Knight et. al entered the blue and white’s camp. Who remained from the 2009 recruiting class? One single player: Jon Hood, a four-star recruit from Madisonville, KY.
Although last year’s team was highly successful, losing in the Final Four to eventual champions the University of Connecticut Huskies by one point, I believe that this year’s team is different, and has a great chance of winning it all. The reason this year is different is visible on the roster.
Alongside this year’s number one recruiting class you’ll find some familiar names: Hood is still there, now a junior, but Lamb, Jones, and Eloy Vargas, a four star junior college transfer student, are also on the roster.
With the fresh talent from 2011’s recruiting class, as well as half of 2010’s recruiting class. The team is still talented, yet now more experienced, thus comes a recipe deadly to opposing teams.
With only four away games left, Kentucky is looking to head into the post-season with their number one ranking intact. Four home games remain as well, and though on any given day a team can win, the Wildcats have a 48 game home winning streak for a reason. In fact, they have the longest home winning streak in the nation, another stat line in which UK is at the top.