College Basketball Preseason Top 25: #3 Kentucky

Alex Poythress is just one of the many McDonald's All-Americans and NBA prospects on Kentucky's roster. (USA TODAY Sports)

Alex Poythress is just one of the many McDonald’s All-Americans and NBA prospects on Kentucky’s roster. (USA TODAY Sports)

3. Kentucky Wildcats

OK, so there’s a lot of talent here. 6-5 twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison were arguably the nation’s top point guard and shooting guard recruits, and they’re both heading to Lexington. 6-9 power forward Julius Randle might be the nation’s top recruit at power forward, and he’s set to join last year’s top recruits Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress in a loaded front court. And oh yeah, 6-10, 265 pound monster Dakari Johnson is arguably the nation’s top center, and Ashley Judd will be cheering him on too. It’s like John Calipari is a video game villain. Sure, you beat him in the last level, but he’s back and better than ever. He’s Bowser with a badass new bunch of Koopalings.

There are 10 guys on this roster who have legitimate NBA dreams. Besides the Harrison twins, Poythress, Randle, Cauley-Stein and Johnson, there are McDonald’s All-Americans Marcus Lee, a 6-9 shot blocking force, and James Young, a three-point specialist. 6-8 forward Derrick Willis will compete for playing time, as will point guard Dominique Hawkins.

BOTTOM LINE: While Calipari has amassed an embarrassing amount of new talent, his system isn’t foolproof. It’s a gamble to rely largely on one-and-done players, all with their own agendas and millions of dollars riding on each and every bounce of the basketball. As hard as he hustles in the recruiting game, Calipari has to hustle even harder to get everyone to buy into the team concept. He’s had mixed results. In 2012, Calipari had a rare bunch. Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and company bought in to what he was selling, and the ‘Cats wound up winning the national championship. Last year, no one was on the same page and Kentucky lost to Bobby Morris in the NIT. We think this year’s team will be closer to the 2012 version, but early struggles would not be a surprise.

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