Cats looking like favorite for 2014-2015 Champions

Fans who were disappointed in this years Wildcats, that is until they made their NCAA Tourney run, will have yet another Calapari team loaded with talent and high expectations from BIG BLUE NATION. UK was expected to lose as many as 6 players to the NBA this year, but only Randle and Young decided to forego their college careers and move on to the NBA.

UK Wildcats celebrate as they make it to yet another Final Four - Photo Michael Huang - East KY Media
UK Wildcats celebrate as they make it to yet another Final Four – Photo Michael Huang – East KY Media

 

The Harrison twins were the final piece to fall into place in next years star studded team filled with McDonalds All-Americans. Along with the “Twins”, Willie Cauley Stein, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee & Alex Poythress all are coming back. That coupled with big man Karl Towns, Guards Ulis and Booker  along with Trey Lyles, Dominque Hawkins & Derek Willis, UK is as deep as anyone in the country and have the tournament experience to beat anyone in the Country.

Kentucky will be one of the biggest if not the biggest team in the country with Johnson, Stein and Towns up front and the Harrison twins in the back court. How many teams in the NCAA would like to have Ulis, Poythress, Lee, Booker, Hawkins, Willis or Lyles starting for them, lit alone coming off the bench? UK has at least 12 players than can start for 95% of the teams in the country.

Calipari’s biggest problem next season appears to be how to play everyone and who to fit in with Stein, Johnson and the twins. The Wildcats have been in 2 Championship games, won one of those, 3 Final Fours and one Elite Eight, all  in 5 short seasons at UK. No other team in the Nation can even come close to those lofty achievements. Once again, UK is expected to make a deep Tournament run and quite possibly their 9th NCAA Championship.

Below are Press Releases for UK players making announcements on their future with the Wildcats.

 

The Harrison Twins will be coming back for another chance at an NCAA Title. Photo by Michael Huang - East KY Media
The Harrison Twins will be coming back for another chance at an NCAA Title. Photo by Michael Huang – East KY Media

Harrisons to Return for Sophomore Seasons

Freshman guards join Cauley-Stein, Lee, Johnson and Poythress among returnees

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Freshman guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison will return to the Kentucky men’s basketball program for the 2014-15 season, they announced Friday.

Aaron Harrison started all 40 games for the Wildcats during the 2013-14 season and averaged 13.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. He knocked down three of UK’s all-time most memorable shots in three consecutive games in helping UK past Louisville, Michigan and Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament to reach the national championship contest.

“I’m coming back for a second season in large part because last year’s title run was special, but we still have unfinished business,” Aaron Harrison said.

Andrew Harrison started 39 games for UK and poured in 10.9 points and added 4.0 assists per game. He dished out three or more assists in seven of UK’s final nine games. His-20 point performance led all Wildcat scorers in an upset of No. 1 seed Wichita State in the NCAA Tournament.

“I’m returning for my sophomore season because I want to win a national title.” Andrew Harrison said.

“I’m excited about Aaron and Andrew’s decision to return for next season,” head coach John Calipari said. “Their postseason play was a result of the improvement they made all season and displayed what they’re capable of doing on the court. I look forward to having the opportunity to work with them during the summer and watch them lead next year’s team.”

Sophomores Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress and fellow freshmen Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee have already announced their intentions to return for the 2014-15 season.

With the announcement of the Harrisons, Kentucky is set to return 67 percent of its assists (300), 65 percent of minutes played, 59 percent of its scoring (1,773) and 54 percent of its rebounds (872) produced from its Final Four squad.

Additional returnees include freshmen Dominque Hawkins, Derek Willis and EJ Floreal, who all saw action this season. The Wildcats will also welcome the No. 2 rated recruiting class in the nation that sports four McDonald’s All-America and Jordan Brand Classic players in Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Karl-Anthony Towns and Tyler Ulis.

Johnson to Return for Sophomore Season

Freshman center joins Cauley-Stein, Lee and Poythress among returnees

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Freshman center Dakari Johnson will return to the Kentucky men’s basketball program for the 2014-15 season, he announced Wednesday.

“After looking at the information provided to me by Coach Cal and the NBA committee, my family and I made the decision for me to return to UK for my sophomore year,” Johnson said. “Returning to school allows me to build on my leadership skills, improve my individual basketball strength and conditioning skills, and have another opportunity to accomplish one of my individual goals: winning an NCAA national championship in college.”

The 7-foot center started 18 of Kentucky’s last 20 games, averaging 5.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game during that stretch. Johnson tallied nine points and a career-high 11 rebounds in UK’s postseason-opening win over LSU in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

“I’m happy to have Dakari back with us for next season,” head coach John Calipari said. “Despite being the youngest player on the team this season, he continued to improve every day on the court and it showed. We look forward to seeing his improvement over the summer and throughout next year.”

The Brooklyn, N.Y., native grabbed six or more rebounds four times during UK’s postseason run, while shooting better than 62 percent from the field during the NCAA Tournament.

Sophomores Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress and fellow freshman Marcus Lee have already announced their intentions to return for the 2014-15 season.

Poythress to Return for Junior Season

Sophomore forward joins Cauley-Stein and Lee among returnees

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Sophomore forward Alex Poythress will return to the Kentucky men’s basketball program for the 2014-15 season, he announced Wednesday.

“Playing in the NBA has always been a dream of mine, but I want to make sure that I’m NBA-ready before I make that jump,” Poythress said. “By coming back, I’ll be so much closer to earning my degree in business and it will give me another year to prepare my game and my body for the next level.”

The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 5.9 points and 4.5 rebounds in helping lead the Wildcats to the NCAA title game. He shot better than 68 percent from the field in the NCAA Tournament, including an eight-point, seven-rebound performance in the Final Four against Wisconsin.

“I’m excited for Alex and the decision he’s arrived at,” head coach John Calipari said. “I’m proud of the work he committed to this past season, on and off the floor, and think he’s ready to take that next step and lead this team next season.”

The Clarksville, Tenn., native tallied a double-double (10 points, 13 rebounds) in UK’s season-opener against UNC Asheville and pulled down 12 rebounds two games later against second-ranked Michigan State.

Fellow sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein and freshman Marcus Lee announced their intentions to return for the 2014-15 season last week.

Lee to Return for Sophomore Season

Freshman forward joins Cauley-Stein among returnees

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Freshman forward Marcus Lee will return to the Kentucky men’s basketball program for the 2014-15 season, it was announced Friday.

“I’ve really enjoyed my college experience and I’m looking forward to continuing to develop as an all-around player,” Lee said. “Playing in the Final Four was such an amazing feeling, but I want to come back and help win that final game this year.”

The 6-foot-9 forward was called upon in Kentucky’s Final Four run and he answered the call with a 10-point, eight-rebound, two-block performance in the Elite Eight against Michigan. He finished the tournament shooting 70 percent from the field and was named to the Midwest Regional All-Tournament team.

“I’m excited for Marcus and think he’s barely scratched the surface of what he’s capable of,” head coach John Calipari said.  “In addition to his athleticism and the energy level he brings, the experience he gained in the NCAA Tournament this year will be immeasurable for us next season.”

The Antioch, Calif., native tallied 17 points in UK’s season-opener against UNC Asheville and pulled down a then-career-high six rebounds against Northern Kentucky.

The NBA Early Entry deadline is at 11:59 p.m. ET Sunday, April 27.

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