Kentucky's top basketball recruits predict a title for this year's Cats

broberts@herald-leader.comApril 4, 2014 

The four McDonald's All-Americans who have signed to play for Kentucky next year hope to be in a similar position as the current group of Wildcats: playing for an NCAA championship.

Until then, Karl Towns Jr., Tyler Ulis, Trey Lyles and Devin Booker are in full-on fan mode, cheering the Cats at every stop.

The four players answered a few questions for the Herald-Leader on Tuesday about UK's improbable run to the Final Four and what they think will happen next.

What is the one thing this team has to do to win the national title?

Towns: "I think the biggest thing they have to do is just stay poised. Stay with the game plan. Just make sure that they keep playing the way they've been playing. They have to keep hitting shots. They have to keep being the best offensive rebounding team in the country. And they have to just make (up) for Willie Cauley-Stein being doubtful. Marcus Lee has to have another good game. And Dakari has to play like a man again."

Booker: "I think they just keep playing how they've been playing. They came together at the end of the year, and it's obviously working. I was at the SEC Tournament, and that was my first time seeing them in person. I was like, 'It doesn't look like this on TV.' Coach Cal says they have changed as a team — right when the SEC Tournament started. He made his tweaks, or whatever he said. It obviously worked."

Ulis: "Just keep playing hard and playing together. You can tell they have a lot of confidence right now. With seven All-Americans, they knew they were really good. They had a lot of confidence, but once they started losing — as freshmen — of course, their confidence is going to drop a little bit. But now they're playing together, they're playing great. ... They're going to be really hard to beat."

Lyles: "Just limit turnovers and rebound. If they can do those two things, they should be fine. Because, offensively, they have so many threats it's ridiculous."

Who is your favorite player to watch on this Kentucky team?

Towns says Julius Randle: "Julius is just like a tank when he goes inside. He runs over people. He gets to the rim. He plays with such a fire in such a big LeBron-type body, it's crazy to see him just go out there and dominate."

Booker says Aaron Harrison: "Aaron stepped up. He hit all the big shots for them. At the end of the game, he's the go-to guy. ... And people have been hard on the twins all year. And, I think, they both had a pretty good season. I think it was just expectations that other people were labeling on them. And I'm glad to see them fight through the adversity."

Ulis also likes Aaron Harrison: "He's playing great. He's shooting lights-out right now. And he's just stepped up from early in the year."

Lyles was partial to Willie Cauley-Stein before he got hurt. Now, it's both twins: "They've been playing so well, and they've been so unselfish. They've been dominating, and finding guys, and scoring themselves."

Where will you watch Saturday's game?

Towns: "I'll probably be at my house, watching it with my family."

Booker is staying in Chicago through Sunday: "I'm going to be watching it with Tyler."

Ulis: "Devin's probably going to come out to my house. We're going to hang out and watch the game."

Lyles: "Hopefully I'll be home by then. I'll probably just watch it at home."

The big question: Who's going to win it all?

Towns: "Obviously, I've gotta go with my mans — Kentucky!"

Booker: "Oh, Kentucky. Hands down."

Ulis: "(UK is) going to win the national championship. I want them to beat Florida, because they beat us earlier in the year."

Lyles: "I think Kentucky gets Florida in the championship. Fourth time's the charm."

Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216. Twitter: @NextCats. Blog:

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