When the Kentucky Wildcats began last season as the preseason No. 3 college basketball team in the nation, they were expected to win the SEC and possibly win the national championship for the second year in a row, despite losing their entire starting lineup to the 2012 NBA draft.
This year, once again, the Wildcats were expected to lose some of their most talented players to the NBA draft. Archie Goodwin and Nerlens Noel left as expected. However, some of their freshmen returned, setting up a season in which Kentucky should make an NCAA tournament run.
Willie Cauley-Stein carried most of the load for the Wildcats after Noel’s season-ending injury. In Kentucky’s late attempt to try and gain an NCAA tournament berth, his play decided whether they would win or lose and led to the wins over Florida and Missouri.
Alex Poythress played extremely well for the Wildcats last season, but was overshadowed by some of the other Kentucky freshmen. This will be his year to shine, because he is an elite basketball player that can make game-deciding shots late in close game situations.
The main focus of this season will be on the star incoming freshmen Julius Randle, Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, James Young and Dakari Johnson. However, Cauley-Stein and Poythress will be the two players with the experience and leadership to help the incoming recruits play at their best.