According to Gary Parrish
of CBSSports.com, Kentucky will bid adieu to five standouts from its 2011-12 national championship team Tuesday.
Sophomores Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones and freshmen Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague are expected to declare their intentions to enter the NBA Draft. That opens the door for another top-rated recruiting class to make an immediate impact in Lexington.
No. 1-ranked prospect Nerlens Noel
headlines a group that also includes five-star talents Archie Goodwin
and Alex Poythress
. Willie Cauley
, a 6-foot-11 center athletic enough to be a dominant wide receiver/tight end on the gridiron, rounds out the four-man class.
John Calipari is also in the mix for five-star power forward Anthony Bennett
, who is in the process of taking visits and expected to render a verdict next month.
Kyle Wiltjer, North Carolina State transfer Ryan Harrow and Jon Hood, who sat out the 2011-12 with an injury, are already on the roster and should be key pieces of the puzzle.
As it stands now, is Kentucky's 2012 class good enough to keep the Big Blue Nation realistically dreaming of another national title?
Noel, a 6-10, 215-pound center, is about as good as Wildcat fans could hope for in terms of replacing Davis. Kentucky shouldn't miss a beat defensively with the Tilton School (N.H.)
product at the 5 spot but it would be completely unrealistic to expect Noel to match the potential No. 1 overall draft pick on the offensive end.
Outside of John Wall and with apologies to Brandon Knight, Goodwin might be the best guard Calipari has signed since coming to Lexington. The Arkansas native is a big-time scorer but not the type of high-volume shooter who will force shots and take opportunities away from his talented teammates.
Poythress took his game to another level as a senior at Northeast (Clarksville, Tenn.)
, averaging 28.2 points and 11.1 rebounds per game to earn second team MaxPreps All-American
honors. He received favorable reviews on the postseason all-star circuit. The 6-7, 215-pounder should gobble up the minutes vacated by Kidd-Gilchrist, though he might be missing the "mega-winner" gene that MKG seems to possess.
Cauley is a bit of a wild card and probably more of a long-term project. He wasn't even the best player on his own high school team this season and is going to have to fight with Noel for minutes at the 5. It's not out of the question the two could be paired together but Cauley is likely going to be Daniel Orton to Noel's DeMarcus Cousins.
Parrish and Jeff Goodman at CBSSports.com have installed Kentucky at No. 1 in its Top 25 (and one)
. Tough to argue with the experts, but without Bennett the roster is a little thin. Aside from experience, there isn't a lot lacking in a Noel-Wiltjer-Poythress-Goodwin-Harrow lineup. Bench help is a must if the Wildcats want to repeat in 2013.