Kentucky Basketball Front Court 2014-15
UK has had three seven-footers before but at least two were generally sitting on the end of the bench.
The Kentucky ’14-15 roster has five highly rated C/PFs with another McDonald's All-American (Poythress) with a PF body moving to SF for playing time and his potential NBA future.
NBADraft.net has athletic 6-10 rising sophomore Marcus Lee as the 12th pick in the 2015 NBA mock draft based on his performance off the bench against Michigan in the NCAA Regional final. Lee may be the fifth of five among UK’s bigs in playing time if all are healthy in '14-15.
Productive big men are at a premium and usually make the jump to the NBA draft as soon as practical even if they could use another year in college to hone their skills (Daniel Orton). Their injury risk is higher (think Sam Bowie).
Calipari has generally had to reload his front court. In a sense this wealth of big men seemed to fall into his lap.
The seldom-used Lee was considered having an outside shot (which he currently lacks as a player) to be taken as a late second rounder based on his circus put back dunks in the Michigan game. John Beilein confessed that they did not have tape on Lee. He decided to return for ’14-15. He got to play due to an ankle injury to athletic 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein. Willie was in no hurry to leave school and realized his injury, which required surgery, would drop him from the lottery so he returned shocking Calipari. Finally 7-footer Dakari Johnson who has a big NBA body but is relatively new to basketball, decided to stay rather than take a chance on being a late first round NBA pick. Calipari had already signed 2014 5-stars Karl Towns and Trey Lyles who had to assume Cauley-Stein and perhaps Johnson would be playing in the Summer League this week.
Needless to say, Calipari has fouls to give at the four and five. In a sabermetrics way, he is selling production per minute versus absolute stats as the appropriate way to judge his bigs along with the eye test.