Early projections for 2013-14 put Kentucky No. 1

April 9, 2013 

Kentucky Wildcats Tod Lanter, left, forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) Alex Poythress, and Brian Long, enjoyed the playing of My Old Kentucky home as Kentucky defeated Florida 61-57 on Saturday March 9, 2013 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff


It didn't take long after Louisville cut down the nets Monday night for predictions to start emerging for next season.

Those projections see the Cardinals having a chance to repeat, but favored Kentucky and its combination of incoming and veteran talent are touted a little bit more.

CBSsports.com posted a 2013-14 pre-season poll rating Kentucky No. 1, followed by Michigan State, Louisville, Arizona and NCAA runner-up Michigan. That group was followed by Florida at No. 6, then Duke, North Carolina, Ohio State and Marquette.

ESPN analyst Dick Vitale ranked his top six teams for next season in this order: No. 1 Kentucky, followed by North Carolina, Michigan State, Indiana, Duke and Arizona.

Vitale reasoned that Kentucky's returning veterans — Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein and Kyle Wiltjer — would combine with a No. 1 recruiting class to create a team much like the Wildcats' 2011-12 national champions.

"I can hear John Calipari screaming, 'Are you serious?'" Vitale said.

The ESPN analyst said UK recruits Aaron and Andrew Harrison would be "fantastic" and called Julius Randle "a special superstar."

USA Today projected next season's top six teams this way: Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Michigan State and Florida.

"Returnees Willie Cauley-Stein and sophomore Kyle Wiltjer will be meshed with one of the best freshmen classes ever," the USA Today article said. "The Sensational Six — Marcus Lee, Dakari Johnson, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Julius Randle and James Young — give Calipari undoubtedly the country's best talent. The team's chemistry will be the crucial ingredient to a winning recipe."

ESPN's Jason King projected Kentucky and Louisville as Nos. 1 and 2, followed by Michigan State, Arizona, Duke, Ohio State and Florida.

"A repeat championship hardly seems far-fetched for Rick Pitino's squad, which could return most of the key pieces from a team that ended the year on a 16-game winning streak," King wrote. Wiggins' decision unlikely

Andrew Wiggins probably won't make his announcement from this weekend's Jordan Brand Classic, his coach said Tuesday.

Huntington Prep Coach Rob Fulford told the Herald-Leader that it is "highly unlikely" that the country's No. 1 basketball prospect will announce his college decision at the Nike-sponsored event.

Fulford is the head coach of the East team, which will include Wiggins and Kentucky commitments Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison and Aaron Harrison. Future Wildcats James Young, Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee will represent the West.

The Huntington Prep coach said Wiggins will announce his decision sometime before the end of the regular signing period, which starts April 17 and runs through May 15.

Wiggins is expected to choose among UK, Florida State, North Carolina and Kansas. The 6-foot-8 forward from Toronto has made official visits to each of those schools.

The Jordan Brand Classic will be shown live on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Goodwin not in first round

ESPN analyst Chad Ford released his first NBA mock draft Tuesday, and it was a mixed bag for UK's freshmen.

The good news: Ford projects Nerlens Noel — who has not yet officially declared — to be selected with the No. 1 overall pick by the Charlotte Bobcats. If that happens, it will give UK the No. 1 draft pick in three of the past four years.

The bad news: Archie Goodwin — who has officially declared — was not included in the first round.

Thirty players, no Goodwin.

Goodwin is ranked No. 22 in Ford's most recent "Big Board" update, but the ESPN analyst said Tuesday that the ex-Cat's overall prospect ranking doesn't necessarily correlate to his draft position.

"The mock draft is about both fit and finding teams who like a particular player," Ford told the Herald-Leader. "While I think GMs generally think that Goodwin has a chance, I couldn't find a team in the 20s that had him prioritized over other players on the board. You noticed that both shooting and size become really big as we get further down in the draft."

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