No team or group of players has been under the microscope or analyzed more than this season’s Kentucky Wildcats. The freshman class that some considered the best in the history of college basketball is now into its second season: conference play. The reality is, despite what gurus and fans expected, there is a process that all players and teams must go through for them to reach their individual and collective potential.
Learning how to work hard, learning the hows and whys of the offensive and defensive philosophy and, most importantly, learning how to trust each other and play connected offensively and defensively is a process that takes time. For many of the Wildcats, this is the first time they're part of a standout group and not the lone focal point of a team.
Let's look at the adjustments and progress these players have made individually and for the good of the group.
Julius Randle | F | Freshman
Randle, averaging 16.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, is the most physically imposing freshman in college basketball. When in beast mode, he’s almost impossible to keep from getting to the basket or off the offensive glass. This is reflected in him grabbing 15.5 percent of available offensive rebounds and drawing 7.9 fouls every 40 minutes.
Coach John Calipari gives Randle the freedom when grabbing a defensive rebound to burst out and initiate the fast break. The Wildcats will run a number of isolations for him at both the elbow and the wing.
While he has been one of the nation’s top first-year players, he still has room to develop.