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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

October 9th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball

 

Kentucky Wildcats

 

Overall Rank: #32

Conference Rank: #5 SEC

 

2005-06: 22-13, 9-7, 3rd East

2005-06 postseason: NCAA

 

Kentucky barely slipped into the NCAA Tournament for their 15th consecutive appearance with a 9-7 record in the SEC.  The Wildcats started to come together late in the year and Coach Tubby Smith hopes that will continue into the 2006-2007 campaign.

 

Who’s Out: Rajon Rondo, who left early for the NBA and Patrick Sparks are the major departures for UK.  Rondo averaged 11.2 points, 4.9 assists, 6.1 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game.  None of those numbers are easy to replace, but the Wildcats have options.  Sparks sputtered through his senior year averaging 9.7 points while struggling to find his shot.  The backcourt depth will have to be handled by incoming freshmen with the departures of Ravi Moss, Adam Williams, Brandon Stockton and Preston LeMaster. The transfers of Shagari Alleyne and Rekalin Sims won’t hurt the frontcourt too much.  Alleyene averaged just 2.0 points in 22 contests while Sims added 4.4 points and 2.9 boards per contest.

 

Who’s In: Derrick Jasper and Jodie Meeks won’t be given much time to adjust to life in the SEC before they are thrown into the fire.  Jasper is a great passer and has a knack for finding an open teammate.  At 6-6, his size is a great asset for a point guard.  The Paso Robles, California product won’t score much, but the Wildcats won’t need him to this year.  Meeks can create his own shots and has a nice mid-range game, but the long range shooting is not as consistent as Coach Smith would like.  Combo Guard Michael Porter could use his toughness and intelligence to earn some minutes as a freshman.  Perry Stevenson should be in the mix for playing time in the paint.  Listed at 178 pounds, the 6-9 forward needs to add strength before he can effectively battle day after day in the SEC.  Mark Coury, a 6-9 walk-on, will add more depth up front.

 

Who to Watch: Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford will replace Rondo and Sparks in the backcourt.  While Bradley can’t compare with Rondo on the defensive end, he is a better shooter and is a hardworker who could become a team leader.  After spending much of his first two seasons at the three, Crawford will slide over to where he belongs at the two.  The 6-5 junior averaged 10.2 points per game and is a solid outside shooter.  If the nagging injuries remain in the past, Crawford is due for a big season. 

 

Final Projection: Randolph Morris returns and may end up to be the most important player on the team.  After averaging 13.3 points and 6.0 rebounds in a shortened season due to his involvement with an agent, the 6-11 center is expected to shoulder even a bigger load in the scoring department and on the glass.  His frontcourt mates will likely be Sheray Thomas at the four and Bobby Perry at the three.  Jared Carter, a 7-2 sophomore will be in the mix as well.  Carter saw very few minutes as a freshman, but the highly touted recruit will be ready to play a bigger role this year.  If Coach Smith wants to play big, Morris could spend some minutes at the four with Carter at the five.  This might not be as talented of a squad as Kentucky fans have become accustomed to, but it is not as bad as some make it out to be either.  The Wildcats have top 25 talent, they just have to find some leadership in order to turn that talent into success.

 

Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA

 

Projected Starting Five:

Ramel Bradley, Junior, Guard, 7.9 points per game

Joe Crawford, Junior, Guard, 10.2 points per game

Bobby Perry, Senior , Forward, 7.1 points per game

Sheray Thomas, Senior, Forward, 4.3 points per game

Randolph Morris, Junior, Forward, 13.3 points per game

33 Connecticut » Complete List » 31 Tennessee

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