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Best-case/Worst-case for every UK basketball player
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Best-case/Worst-case for every UK basketball player

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Kentucky Kernel columnist Aaron Smith analyzes the best-case and worst-case scenarios for every UK basketball player.

Kentucky Kernel columnist Aaron Smith analyzes the best-case and worst-case scenarios for every UK basketball player.

Published in: Sports, Education

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  • 1. Best-case/worst-case scenariosfor every UK player
    Text by Kernel columnist Aaron Smith
    Photos by Kernel photo staff
  • 2. Terrence Jones
    BEST-CASE SCENARIO
    Remember the Terrence Jones of the first month of last season? When he was the clear leader of UK’s offense and displayed the prowess that vaulted him into early national player-of-the-year contention? He could do that for a whole season and become the top NBA pick he wants to be.
    WORST-CASE SCENARIO
    Remember the Terrence Jones of the last month of the season? He could play a whole season as that guy, rarely asserting his dominance and representing stunted potential, getting picked in the late first round.
    Prediction: His scoring may not jump much from last year’s 15.7 per, but he becomes much more efficient and looks more like the first-half Jones.
  • 3. Doron Lamb
    BEST-CASE SCENARIO
    Lamb retains his dead-eye perimeter shooting, firing from the corner on kick-outs and making it harder for defenses to help off the ball. He also gains the muscle Calipari says he needs to and finds a way to create offense off the dribble.
    WORST-CASE SCENARIO
    Calipari asks Lamb to be an off-the-bench energy guy, but that’s one year too long for Lamb. Unhappy, he falls into a shooting funk and his role on the team deteriorates throughout the year.
    Prediction: Lamb has admitted he didn’t know exactly what it took to succeed at the highest level. Awareness is the key, and he makes the adjustments to be better prepared each game.
  • 4. Darius Miller
    BEST-CASE SCENARIO
    Miller becomes the leader he said he wasn’t quite ready to be last season. He continues to play like he did the last few weeks of the regular season, when he won SEC Tournament MVP, and finds a role similar to Patrick Patterson’s –complementaryto the stars but still an assertive force.
    WORST-CASE SCENARIO
    Miller has trouble finding his niche on yet another new cast of players around him and struggles with even more bouts of inconsistency.
    Prediction: Miller could struggle early in the season. He took a while to get used to last year’s cast, and he didn’t produce much playing for USA Basketball with all-new teammates.
  • 5. Anthony Davis
    BEST-CASE SCENARIO
    Davis goes from the No. 1 high school recruit to the No. 1 college basketball player. He develops an inside game on offense and swats everything in sight on defense. You see how tall Davis looks in this picture? That’s how he looks to every guard driving the lane, too.
    WORST-CASE SCENARIO
    Davis still isn’t used to being a big guy, and struggles to become a force inside. Like Harrison Barnes last year, he struggles early in the season and never really figures out how to dominate.
    Prediction: Nobody thinks Davis is anything less than his hype, and I don’t think differently. He has so much raw talent there’s no way he doesn’t jump into Player of the Year discussions.
  • 6. Marquis Teague
    BEST-CASE SCENARIO
    Teague continues the Calipari point guard streak. He becomes a slashing point guard who is also able to run an offense the way Calipari needs him to, balancing his ability to score with the necessity to distribute the basketball.
    WORST-CASE SCENARIO
    Teague struggles early in the season to pick up the offense and his responsibilities, and as a result, it impedes UK’s progression as a team. He can’t stay on the floor enough, from fouls and fatigue, forcing UK to go with Lamb/Miller/Polson at point guard for extended stretches.
    Prediction: Calipari believes Teague has what it takes to follow in the line, so I do, too.
  • 7. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
    BEST-CASE SCENARIO
    Kidd-Gilchrist pushes this team off the court as much as on, getting everyone to stay late and come early. He becomes a slasher on the wing who consistently breaks down defenses and guards with a tenacity that mirrors DeAndreLiggins.
    WORST-CASE SCENARIO
    It’s not that low. He just doesn’t have the mentality to falter, and he legitimately does not seem to care whether he’s coming off the bench or starting. Like Brandon Knight, his work ethic prevents him from failing.
    Prediction: If there is one player’s mentality that can most benefit the entire team, it’s Kidd-Gilchrist’s. He has both the intangibles and the tangibles to drive this team to a higher level.
  • 8. Kyle Wiltjer
    BEST-CASE SCENARIO
    Wiltjer becomes one of the best off-the-bench scoring options in the country while adding an entirely different offensive skill set when he’s on the floor. He provides a more-than-capable big man option off the bench and makes Erin Andrews swoon at practices.
    WORST-CASE SCENARIO
    Wiltjer never finds an offensive flow, most often hanging around the perimeter with limited results. He gets pushed around on defense when he comes off the bench, forcing UK to use Eloy Vargas more than it wants.
    Prediction: Wiltjer will have less impact than expected. Even when he gets in the game, he will be the third or fourth option, but he will be a solid backup.
  • 9. Jon Hood
    BEST-CASE SCENARIO
    Hood spends all year rehabilitating the knee, taking the year to get stronger and learn from the sidelines. He watches the flood of Cats heading to the pros after this year and becomes a major contributor next season.
    WORST-CASE SCENARIO
    Hood finishes his recovery and gets reactivated toward the end of the year, but he’s too far behind to be any help. He doesn’t get to extend his eligibility a year further and, essentially, wastes his junior season for no reason.
    Prediction: Hood still holds out hope he can come back and help the team, but the best thing is probably sitting out the year, as much as it may pain him to watch from the sidelines.
  • 10. Stacey Poole
    BEST-CASE SCENARIO
    Poole makes the necessary commitment — something he didn’t do last year — and becomes a solid eighth man. He spells Miller/Gilchrist/Lamb when the trio gets in foul trouble and holds his own.
    WORST-CASE SCENARIO
    A repeat of last year, or, he does absolutely nothing of worth.
    Prediction: Poole didn’t show enough last year to think he will be more. Unlike Vargas and Beckham, who see immediate backup minutes by necessity, there won’t be many opportunities for Poole. The best thing: he acknowledged that he never played last season, so maybe he can find a way to get enough spot minutes to prove himself.
  • 11. Eloy Vargas
    BEST-CASE SCENARIO
    Vargas picked up and retained post moves and toughness from his time tangling with Al Horford in Dominican Republic national team practices. The extra time with Calipari pays off, he rebounds with two hands 99 percent of the time, and he provides a serviceable backup center.
    WORST-CASE SCENARIO
    Vargas remains soft on both the offensive and defensive end, is often out of place, and gets massive cheers anytime he scores the ball.
    Prediction: Vargas certainly had enough experience this summer to help him, from the China and Dominican Republic trips. He ends up playing at a slightly improved level from last year for 5-10 minutes per game.
  • 12. Jarrod Polson
    BEST-CASE SCENARIO
    Polson emerges as a scrappy, competent backup point guard, spelling Teague for about 5 minutes per game. The fans finally quit yelling “SHOOOOT!” at him every time he touches the ball. (Seriously. Stop with that.)
    WORST-CASE SCENARIO
    Polson reprises his role from last year as the lovable hometown white guy off the bench. The backup point guard spot is taken by Twany Beckham, leaving Polson to root for 25-point leads in the last two minutes.
    Prediction: I remember how Polson scrapped in the South Carolina game last year. He wants to be out there. Will he be the backup point guard? Probably not, but he could give emergency minutes if Teague/Lamb aren’t in, no problem.