Last season Kentucky lacked depth to really compete in practice. While they had bodies for five-on-five, the talent level wasn’t always competitive. Now, even though the Cats lose DeAndre Liggins, Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter and Josh Harrellson from the roster, the additions to the team, plus a couple of transfers can definitely pay dividends.
Kentucky returns starting forwards Darius Miller and Terrence Jones from last season’s Final Four squad. They also return key reserve Doron Lamb. Eloy Vargas and Jon Hood provided spot minutes for the Wildcats at times and Stacey Poole should also provide additional depth on the wing this season.
But the Wildcat will bring in their third straight number one rated recruiting class which includes two potential starters in forwards Michael Gilchrist and Anthony Davis (not to mention another McDonald’s All-American in Kyle Wiltjer). Freshman Marquis Teague is likely the starter at point guard as well.
Kentucky has one mid-season player becoming eligible in Twanny Beckham, a Louisville native. Beckham transferred from Mississippi State and will be eligible at the semester break. He will provide depth at point guard as well as on the wing.
Kentucky will also add Ryan Harrow, the former five-star point guard from Marietta, Georgia. Harrow played for North Carolina State last season and once Sydney Lowe was ousted as head coach, Harrow decided to make a change.
Next season Harrow will have to sit out, but he will have three more years of eligibility. The 6-foot, 160-pound point guard will push freshman Marquis Teague in practice next season before ultimately having a chance to take over as starter during the following year.
Harrow’s presence will pay off in a big way for Teague, as he will challenge him on both ends of the court. Teague will face a prospect with similar speed and skill from day one. While that won’t be out of the ordinary for a player like Teague, who has competed at a high level, he hasn’t faced a player like Harrow (or Beckham for that matter) every day in practice during his career.
Another benefit is that Harrow is likely to look more to score than Teague. Harrow’s presence on the court during practice will give the defense a different look to be prepared for. That will prove valuable as Kentucky will face several kinds of point guards during the season and this will help with the preparation.
Possibly the biggest benefit for the Wildcats would be if they lose Teague to the NBA after a single season, Harrow will be able to step in during the next season with college experience and experience under Calipari.
For a program with five starting point guards in the last five years, that’s a very important asset. That’s especially true if Kentucky has the kinds of losses on the roster that is expected after next season.
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