basketball-men-d1 flag

Gary B. Graves | The Associated Press | June 30, 2014

UK's Calipari excited to have experience on his side entering 2014-15 season

Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein Willie Cauley-Stein is one of six key contributors returning for Kentucky.

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky coach John Calipari is "excited" having familiar faces on the Wildcats roster next season.

It hasn't happened that often during his tenure in Lexington.

But the Wildcats return six regulars from last year's NCAA runner-up squad, and as usual will be in a cadre of high school All-Americans (four in this class). That's different from the usual pattern of Kentucky freshmen leaving for the NBA, but the stability also has Calipari looking forward to this fall.

"For the first time I've had players return that had their chance to put their names in the draft, so we're in a unique situation where we have veterans now," Calipari said during Monday's Southeastern Conference teleconference. "Granted, those veterans are sophomores and two are juniors, which is kind of unusual for us. I'm excited about it.

"The returning players and the freshmen are getting along well, so it's all good."

Twin guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison, forward Marcus Lee and center Dakari Johnson bypassed the NBA draft to return for sophomore seasons. Center Willie Cauley-Stein and forward Alex Poythress both return as juniors, giving Kentucky more returning depth than usual.

The Harrisons' decisions to return were considered the most important for Kentucky after playing key roles in last spring's amazing postseason run. The 6-foot-6 duo provides size, shooting and ball-handling for a backcourt that includes reserve Dominique Hawkins and welcomes 6-5 Devin Booker and 5-8 Tyler Ulis.

Kentucky's frontcourt will feature 7-footers Cauley-Stein -- a return that surprised Calipari, given projections of him being a mid-first-round draft choice -- and Johnson, along with Poythress and Lee. The program also landed 7-0 forward Karl Towns Jr. and 6-10 Trey Lyles.

The Wildcats' first competition together comes during exhibitions in The Bahamas in August, when they face teams from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and France. Those squads feature older veterans, which Calipari noted will "be hard games for us to win."

20 contenders for the Jerry West Award as the nation's best shooting guard

These are 20 Jerry West Award candidates for the 2020-2021 men's college basketball season, ranked by NCAA.com's Andy Katz.
READ MORE

9 men's college basketball coaches could be the next to reach 800 wins

These active men's college basketball coaches could be the next to reach the elusive 800-win mark in their careers.
READ MORE

The best, worst and most likely finish for each AP Top 25 ranking

A comprehensive breakdown AP preseason college basketball poll, including how many NCAA tournament titles each spot has won and how many March Madness games a team is likely to win based on where it's ranked.
READ MORE

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from NCAA.com and our partners