With six McDonald’s All-Americans on their way to Lexington, it is pretty obvious as to why the Kentucky Wildcats have the number one recruiting class in 2013. In fact, you can make an argument that the group of Julius Randle, Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Dakari Johnson, James Young, and Marcus Lee might be the best recruiting class of all time. Wherever they rank on that list, one thing is for certain; this freshmen class will face an incredible amount of pressure with such high expectations placed upon this group.
“Sure, there’s pressure,” point guard recruit Andrew Harrison confessed when I asked him about it at the McDonald’s All-American Game media day.
“When you’re a great player and you have a bunch of great teammates at a great basketball tradition school, there’s going to be pressure but we look forward to that. That’s why we went to Kentucky.”
Andrew’s twin brother Aaron added, “We just want to go out there and prove that we’re the best. Everybody’s saying we’re the best and we think we’re the best so we just have to go prove it.”
A reporter asked Randle about being part of the highest rated class in college basketball history. “I know the media has made a big deal about it, but the hype and the attention that stuff never really phases me,” Randle answered.
Highest. Rated. Ever.
That will be the expectation for the Kentucky Wildcats next year as they will almost certainly be the pre-season #1 ranked team for 2013-14. Especially now with the recent announcements of Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, and Kyle Wiltjer all return to Lexington. It also causes a major logjam since John Calipari must juggle the egos of having so much talent on the Kentucky Wildcats roster with only so many minutes to go around.
“Everybody’s goal is to win a National Championship,” shooting guard James Young said. “James Harden came off the bench, so if I have to come off the bench to score, I’ll do whatever I have to do to help the team.”
“People are going to have to find out what their role is,” Andrew Harrison told me. “Everyone’s a superstar. Everyone’s probably going to go to the next level so we just have to make sure everyone is focused on one goal and that’s winning a championship.”
John Calipari has assembled some insanely talented recruiting classes the since taking over the Kentucky Wildcats. John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Daniel Orton, and Eric Bledsoe in 2009. Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones, Enes Kanter, and Doron Lamb in 2010. Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, and Kyle Wiltjer in 2011. And last year’s group of Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin, Poythress, and Cauley-Stein.
What is absolutely ridiculous is that the top recruit in the 2013 class, small forward Andrew Wiggins, remains undecided but has the Wildcats as one of the final teams he is considering. If Cal was somehow able to add Wiggins to an already stacked 2013 recruiting class, there is no doubt the ‘Cats would have the best incoming group of players ever.
“Aw man,” Young said with a grin on his face. “It’d be a heck of a team. I feel like we’d be the Miami Heat with all the players we’d have.”
“I don’t say anything about it because I know how hard it was for me to choose a school,” 6-9 big man Marcus Lee answered when questioned about whether he was trying to lure Wiggins to Lexington during their time together preparing for the McDonald’s Game. “Everybody’s asking him, but I just let him take his time.”
With or without Wiggins, next season’s freshmen powered Kentucky Wildcats team will be predicted by most to cut down the nets like the young 2011-12 team did. If this group can jell together with the returning players like the ’11-’12 players did (rather than the non-cohesive group we saw this past season), Big Blue Nation will be the favorite to hang another banner inside Rupp Arena.
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_KmiecikFollow paulmbanks