Every Monday, I hope to do a player power rankings based on the previous week’s games. This inaugural ranking; however, will take a look at the first 7 games of the year to get things started. The rankings:
- Nerlens Noel- The big man up to this point has been UKs MVP. Now, he hasn’t quite blossomed into the start we all thought he would be at this point, but he certainly hasn’t disappointed, either. I’d say there are hundreds of D-1 coaches who would love to have #3 on their team with his current production. Through the first 7 games, Noel is averaging a near triple double with 11 PPG and 9 RPB. He has filled the stat sheet in other ways as well, showing off his versatility by averaging 2.6 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks per game. His inability to hit shots within 8 feet of the basket last game seemed to be a team-wide curse, so Noel gets top honors in this week’s rankings.
- Alex Poythress- Following an impressive 4 game streak where he scored 20 points or more, you would think Poythress would be number 1 in our rankings. His production slipped against Baylor, where he only scored 13 points, and he disappeared against Notre Dame with only 2 points on one shot attempt. For Poythress to be the team’s leader, he will need to bring his A++ game night in and night out. Until that happens, look for him to stay just shy of the top spot.
- Archie Goodwin- The biggest mystery to come through Kentucky since Billy Gillispie’s night golf game, Goodwin probably makes the best case, other than Nerlens, for taking the #1 in the power rankings. He leads the team with 16 points per game but also leads them with 3 turnovers per game, too. Archie is shooting a phenomenal 62 percent from 3-point land, but has only taken 8 shots from behind the arc. That means he has been driving and attacking the basket more, but only has a 48 percent FG shooting percentage to show for it. I still believe being put at 2-guard would be the best decision for the progression and improvement of Goodwin’s game.
- Willie Cauley-Stein- While Cauley-Stein is still a work in progress. He has made tremendous improvement since being on UK’s campus and practicing with the team. There was even talk last week of him being a potential #1 pick in the NBA draft. That notion now seems silly after the last two performances, but nevertheless we can see some type of improvement from WCS each game. His FG percentage is right around 59 percent, a statistic that could go even higher when he learns to finish strong around the rim.
- Julius Mays- The graduate student transfer from Wright State was supposed to come in and be the 3-pt threat opposite of Wiltjer on the wings. Mays has disappointed in that aspect so far, only shooting 37 percent from downtown. He makes up for it; however, in hustle and effort. Mays gave it his all during the Baylor game, (along with Noel) and seems to be the one guy who works the hardest each and every day. This is his 5th year of college basketball though, so one would expect him to understand what it takes to be successful more than anyone else on the team.
- Kyle Wiltjer- The lone holdover who played any significant minutes from last year’s team has fallen to 6th in the power rankings based on his decreasing production when on the court. Coach Calipari said early on that Wiltjer would not only have to make shots to stay in the game, but would also have to defend each and every possession. Unfortunately, neither has been apparent. Wiltjer is shooting 36 percent from 3 point land, only making 15 of the 41 he has put up. I’m not sure if his drop in production is more of a testament to the talent of this year’s team or the ability of the 2012 team to hide Wiltjer while he was out on the floor.
- Ryan Harrow- The illest PG in Kentucky has only played in 3 games thus far, and is shooting a disastrous 11 percent from the field, on 2/17 shots. Harrow was looked at as key member of this year’s squad, but his disappearing act has set him way back and has hurt the team as well. We hope Harrow is back to normal now and can begin to work his way back into meaningful minutes, something I think will happen sooner rather than later due to Goodwin’s PG struggles.
- Jarrod Polson- The former walk-on had his moment of a lifetime against Maryland in the Barclays Center, but don’t look for it to happen again. Sure, it was nice to see a hometown kid get so much love for all the hard work he has put in over the years, but realistically, that level of play will only be reached by Polson again when he is schooling fools down at the Johnson Center on Court 1. Don’t look for a meteoric rise to #1 in the power rankings any time soon.