One of the biggest non-conference matchups takes place tomorrow in Madison Square Garden, as Kansas plays a not-shockingly reloaded Kentucky team. Whereas Kansas hit a snag in its usually solid recruiting efforts with the Class of 2011, John Calipari kept rolling in the blue chips.
The Wildcats added four Rivals five star players: F Anthony Davis, G Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, G Marquis Teague and F Kyle Wiltjer. Calipari really showed his ability to recruit anywhere in the country, as the four were from Chicago, New Jersey, Indianapolis and Portland, respectively.
But what really makes AP #2 Kentucky impressive on paper this season is the return of F Terrence Jones, whose second year in Lexington would appear to be a product of the uncertain labor situation in the NBA. Basketball fans can find a silver lining in the frustrating NBA situation in that a number of players returned to school that would probably have bolted in other years, such as Jared Sullinger, Jones and the North Carolina trio among others.
That being said, it’ll obviously be interesting to see how Thomas Robinson matches up against fellow NBA talent in Jones and Davis. Davis particularly stole the show in Kentucky’s 108-58 opening win against Marist, scoring 23 points in efficient fashion (10-13), grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking 5 shots.
Jeff Withey did a decent job controlling the paint while he wasn’t in foul trouble against Towson. I’ll be interested to see how he fares against the gigantic increase in talent, especially if he can be effective while avoiding bad fouls.
Although Kentucky’s point guards are talented, last year’s starter Brandon Knight didn’t return and the more experienced Jayhawk backcourt could exploit this. Kansas forced Towson into 23 turnovers, while Kentucky’s freshman guards combined for 5 turnovers against Marist. I’m sure Kidd-Gilchrist and Teague have played in a lot of high-pressure AAU showcases and All-American games, but an early season game at Madison Square Garden could still rattle them a bit.
I’m especially interested in watching Teague, the younger brother of former-Wake Forest and current Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague. I’ve read some Tweets that say Marquis is better than Jeff right now. I’ll chalk that up to hyperbole because Jeff was a heck of a college player and looked impressive in the NBA playoffs, but I’m still looking forward to seeing if it has any merit.