Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cal Era, Year 2

Since I already touched on all the guys making the jump, I wanted to discuss the future. I'm of the opinion that you're never allowed to complain about guys leaving early to the pros when they're either a guaranteed first round pick or have a legit need to go pro (i.e. Kelenna Azubuike), so you should either enjoy the out-of-this-world talent that Coach Cal brings in on a yearly basis or you should change teams and root for San Jose State. Regardless of how long these guys stay, enjoy and appreciate their contribution to making UK the premier college basketball program of the 2010s.

1. Brandon Knight. No, he's not gonna effortlessly step into John Wall's shoes. Instead, he's gonna try to run a 2010-2011 UK squad that will pretty much only feature Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins in a return role. Regardless, he's the next kid in cementing Coach's historic point guard legacy. Anyone who caught his high school game against Austin Rivers' squad a few months back saw him unload seemingly every single shot in the game to notch his 48 points. But, obviously, his HS team sucked and we won't even remotely see that version of Knight against collegiate competition. What all UK fans will love is his deft jump shot. He's far superior to John and Eric with his unlimited range and pre-perfected form. In high school he took far more highly-contested, off-balance jumpers than he will in Cal's system, but the skill to make those kinds of shots under bail-out circumstances is never a bad gift to have. And while he can't quite compare with Wall's elite ability to finish at the basket with uncanny power, Knight is more than proficient at getting to wherever he wants to on the floor and forcing the hand of the defense. His decision-making on how to properly run our offense at the collegiate level will easily improve over the course of the season while also taking some getting used to from the fans, as he has a completely different floor game than John. He most likely won't be Top-2 in the National Player of the Year debates, but he will definitely have an immense impact and lead this surprise 2011 UK squad way beyond his freshman expectations.

2. Enes Kanter. This guy's our new resident beast. He's already NCAA-prepped by playing against men in his Turkish league, so simply expect him find his niche in Coach's offense the quickest of anyone and for him to be an immediate force on the backboards. There's really not a good comparison for him at this point. Some point to the throwaway Dirk parallels, but Nowitzki doesn't even remotely possess the low-post prowess and knack for rebounding that Enes exerts while over a decade his elder. Enes' jumper at his size will surprise in the same way, but that's not where he'll be utilized. With Coach Cal expected to utilize the Dribble Drive far more often this year, Enes will be a fill-in post presence and offensive rebounder who will receive much less direct entry passes than Demarcus needed to be effective. And comparatively, while Cousins had to be weened off his belief that a shot outside 7 feet was of good quality, Enes' floor game is far more-polished and multi-faceted. In essence, he's the quintessentially talent to be put on the block in the college game and I expect the national media to recognize his natural dominance far earlier in the season than when they started giving Demarcus any credit in the National Player of the Year race. This Washington decommit will prove to be the surprise of the basketball world, as he's already turned the heads of every talent scout in rising to #3 in both Scout and Rivals high school senior rankings and will only improve. He has none of the questions of character that Demarcus had, or even fellow freshman Josh Selby has, so all of his media coverage will hopefully focus on the actual basketball side of things. Thank God.

3. Doron Lamb. The shooter. Too bad he couldn't have snuck in on last year's team. Doron is a big catch for how future Coach Cal teams are to be constructed. Doron is not the killer athlete who has NBA execs drooling over his potential as the next WhoeverTheyWantHimToNeverBe, but he is a system player with a passion for defense and a jump shot to be admired. I see his pairing with Knight in the starting backcourt as a natural combination that will pay great dividends once they've clocked enough time on the floor. While the fans simply had to cross their fingers every time a three pointer was hurled up last season, this incarnation of the Wildcats will be a prolific shooting team. No longer will Darius be relied on to recreate his Arkansas game from the perimeter. Doron will gladly take on spot-up duties with his set-shot-looking jumper. He's not going to be an offensive initiator or be asked to create his own shot often, but Coach will refine his role and rely on his shooting stroke. Fans can now exhale. The 2 for 17 (or worse) 3-point nights are no more.

4. Stacey Poole. This is the power wing guy. He'll probably only get spot minutes this year behind Liggins and Miller at the small forward slot, but Stacey will be a contributing Cat before his college career is over. He's a bionafied slasher with his willingness to attack the paint and penchant for doing so effectively. Slasher prototypes usually take a little extra time to become effective collegiate scorers since the size differential from the high school level is so drastic and they are expected to still contend with the trees. Stacey's handle will need to be refined since he's used to bodying off every opposing high school wing with ease due to his natural size, but this same size and further development are the qualities that could make him a prime prospect down the road. He has an NBA frame and simply needs to fill it out, a la Azubuike, and his production will follow. He's definitely not a one-and-done threat, he's genuinely excited to be a Wildcat, and he was our sole early signing period commit. Stacey is the exact kind of player that a certain portion of the fanbase has begged for Coach to recruit, so here's hoping that he's appreciated as we watch his talent grow over the next few seasons.

There will assuredly be more legitimate pieces added to this class in either the form of Terrence Jones or another under-the-radar big, but these guys already in place will do just fine to fill in the gaps left by our NBA squad of 2009-2010. The freshmen will learn, the guys remaining will step up, and Coach Cal will coach. Try to not doom the season before the opening tip is even thrown.

... and do the John Wall.

No comments:

Post a Comment

so what did ya think about whatever the heck i wrote?