UK will showcase Julius Randle, a 6-foot-9, 250-pound center, who averaged more than 32 points and 22 rebounds a game last year. He’ll be joined by six other McDonald’s All-Americans on the UK roster, which includes two returning starters. Finding enough minutes to keep everyone happy might be Calipari’s biggest challenge.
ESPN’s Chad Ford thinks seven Kentucky players could be taken in the first round of next spring’s NBA draft. Talk about depth.
The story is much the same at Kansas. Coach Bill Self persuaded three of the nation’s top recruits to come to Lawrence. No player in America is rated higher than Andrew Wiggins, a 6-8 forward, who has been compared to LeBron James, the Ohio native who turned pro out of high school. Guard Wayne Selden and 7-0 center Joel Embiid, a native of Cameroon, make one wonder how Kansas could lose many games.
As much talk as there is about Kentucky, the Cats might not even be the best team in the state. In Louisville, many believe the Cardinals stand a good chance of defending their national championship. What distinguishes this team from others is that it is set to start two seniors and two juniors.
Michigan State is also deep and talented. Coach Tom Izzo’s Spartans return four starters, including standout guards Keith Appling and Gary Harris. Plenty of other teams – such as Arizona, Michigan, Florida and Duke -- could fall into a long list of other legitimate NCAA favorites.
Offensive firepower will be plentiful this season. That said, what’s likely to determine next year’s NCAA champ is what team learns to play the best defense, especially if officials stick with their hands off, no touching approach to calling the game.
Tom Lindley is a sports columnist for the CNHI News Service. Reach him at email@example.com