Frontcourt could hold key for Kentucky

US Presswire

Terrence Jones returns for his sophomore year, looking to lead Kentucky to another Final Four.

John Calipari has done it again. For the third straight season, Calipari has brought the nation’s top recruiting class to Kentucky.

The sparkling 2011 freshman class for the Kentucky Wildcats is led by Anthony Davis, the No. 1 overall recruit according to the ESPNU 100. Davis is a power forward which is a change of pace from recent form in which a point guard headlined Calipari’s classes.

Notable Point Guards
1st Season Under John Calipari

In the previous four seasons, respectively, he’s featured first-year players Brandon Knight, John Wall, Tyreke Evans and Derrick Rose. Knight and Wall led Kentucky in both scoring and assists in each of Calipari’s two seasons in Lexington.

Because of that, point guard Marquis Teague may be the real Wildcat freshman to watch as the year progresses.

This freshmen foursome joins an offense that was the most efficient in the SEC over the past two seasons. In 2010-11 the Wildcats averaged 112.8 points per 100 possessions, tops in the conference and 15th in the nation.

Possible Key To Season? How the Frontcourt Gels

Kentucky shot 44.6 percent on shots from half-court sets last season. The Wildcats averaged 0.94 points per play in those sets a year ago which ranked ninth among all teams in the Big Six conferences.

Terrence Jones Last Season

A big part of that success was Terrence Jones, who decided to return to Kentucky for his sophomore season instead of entering the 2011 NBA Draft.

He led the SEC with 8.8 rebounds per game and 6.4 defensive rebounds per game during his freshman season.

It will be interesting to see how he meshes with Davis in the frontcourt. While Jones was stellar in the first four months of the season, averaging nearly a double-double, he faded down the stretch.

His scoring average dropped from 17 points per game to 11 and he shot just 38 percent from the field during the final month of the season as Kentucky surged to the Final Four.

Specialty Stat

Sophomore guard Doron Lamb shot 46.0 percent and averaged 1.32 points per play on catch-and-shoot plays as a freshman last season. That ranked second in the SEC behind Rotnei Clarke, among players with at least 50 field goal attempts.