How good can the 2015-2016 team be?
It is no secret that the University of Kentucky’s 2014-2015 basketball team was nothing short of historical, which included nine McDonald’s All-Americans, six returning players, and a No. 1 overall pick in Karl Anthony Towns. Kentucky fans had placed a spotlight on the 2014-2015 like never before with expectations of a perfect season and a national championship (both cut short in the Final Four to the Wisconsin Badgers), but what about this year’s 2015-2016 team? How good is this team going to be?
Let’s start off by acknowledging that the 2015-2016 team is not bringing in a recruiting class as overpowering as the year before, nor are they bringing in the same buzz. That being said, this year’s UK team is talented; as of right now, the ‘Cats hold the No. 3 preseason ranking according to ESPN Staff-Writer Eamonn Brennan. Just as previously successful Kentucky teams, the 2015 -2016 team has a projected No. 1 draft pick in the 6’11” Hatian with a smooth jumper, Skal Labissiere, who will be eligible according to Coach Calipari,—– contrary to previous rumors.
Alongside Labissiere, are some top 100 ranked players such as Jamal Murray, Isaiah Briscoe, Charles Matthews, plus a four-star transfer in Mychal Mulder. Jamal Murray reclassified for the class of 2015 in order to play under Coach Calipari this year. Murray is anticipated to be the freshman leader of the wildcats after his outstanding performance in the Pan-American Games (17.0 PPG 2.8 APG) as he led Canada to the championship game past the United States. Murray is not the only one anticipated to reclassify to play under Coach Calipari this year, as there have been talks of the 7-foot Australian, Isaac Humphries and the New Zealand power forward Tai Wynyard. Humphries would strengthen the Wildcats frontcourt, which was one of the positions in question going into the season. Wynyard would also not be expected to join the Wildcats until midway through the season.
But wait, there’s more… with the talented class coming into the season, it may be easy to overlook the returning talent. Tyler Ulis, who didn’t start a single game last year, is now expected to be the ultimate leader of the team, as expected by himself and Cal. Returning with Ulis is Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress; Lee and Poythress will make up part of the front court at UK this year, moving Poythress back to the 4 according to Calipari and the Courier Journal. Although the power forward position is what Poythress is the strongest at, the questions remain whether or not he will be able to contribute at a high level after his ACL-tear back last season. So how good will the Wildcats be this year? Well, this team is not one that could be mistaken for the enemies of the Toon Squad, but that is nothing to be worried about. This team has the potential to be very good once again!
University of Kentucky ’19