Experience By the Numbers

Ally Tuckerover 9 years

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Aritcle written by:Ally TuckerAlly Tucker
After winning the national championship this season, many pointed to Calipari's mixture of talented freshmen and experienced returning players as one of the tipping points for his team finally claiming the coveted title. Having Anthony Davis never hurts either. But the return of three key players with significant experience, Doron Lamb, Terrence Jones and Darius Miller-- factored into the equation for this year's success. With the departure of six key contributors from last year's team, the experience on the roster heading into next season is a legitimate question mark. On Sunday night when Julius Mays committed to Kentucky, the landscape for returning experience changed a bit. Let's take a look at the numbers related to experience heading into last season versus heading into next season.   Last season's players with significant experience:   Darius Miller -3 seasons at Kentucky (2 under Calipari) - Junior Year: 37 games started, 31.0 mpg, 10.9 ppg - Sophomore Year: 32 games started, 21.2 mpg, 6.5 ppg - Freshman Year: 2 games started, 21.2 mpg, 5.3 ppg   Doron Lamb - 1 season at Kentucky under Calipari - Freshman Year: 14 games started, 28.4 mpg, 12.3 ppg   Terrence Jones - 1 season at Kentucky under Calipari - Freshman Year: 35 games started, 31.5 mpg, 15.7 ppg   Next season's players with significant experience:   Kyle Wiltjer - 1 season at Kentucky under Calipari - Freshman Year: 0 games started, 11.6 mpg, 5.0 ppg   Ryan Harrow - 1 season practicing at Kentucky under Calipari - Freshman Year (N.C. State): 10 games started, 23.0 mpg, 9.3 ppg   Julius Mays - Freshman Year (N.C. State): 3 games started, 13.0 mpg, 4.6 ppg - Sophomore Year (N.C. State): 3 games started, 18.5 mpg, 4.6 ppg - Junior Year (Wright State): 28 games started, 33.4 mpg, 14.1 ppg   I think the key here when looking at the experience levels of each of these groups coming into next season hinges on a few key factors such as: the caliber of team (Kentucky plays at a higher level than Wright State, for example), experience in Calipari's system in particular and NCAA tournament experience. Calipari inherited an experienced group of players statistically when he arrived at Kentucky with players such as Patrick Patterson, Perry Stevenson and Ramon Harris. Unfortunately those players did not have significant NCAA tournament experience like Doron Lamb, Terrence Jones and Darius Miller had coming into last season for Calipari. Outside of Kyle Wiltjer's experience as a role player on a national championship team, the significant NCAA tournament experience of making a deep run is lacking for next year's group.   For a team heading into next season loaded with top 2012 incoming freshmen prospects, it is important to note that the three players mentioned above (not even mentioning the experience--though not necessarily significant of Jon Hood) do enter next season with Division I basketball experience. Between the three players they have started 44 Division I basketball games. They have averaged a combined 19.9 minutes per game. Add to that the fact that Ryan Harrow has practiced under Calipari for an entire year. He should be well versed in Calipari's system by now and ready to step into the point guard role.   While this group of 3 players clearly does not have the same level of experience and significant NCAA tournament experience as the Final Four returning group of Miller/Lamb/Jones, the experience they do have cannot be discounted. When meshed with the talented young freshmen, combined with a wide open men's college basketball landscape heading into next season-- Calipari might have the right mixture of youthful talent and experience to make a deep NCAA tournament run.

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2021-09-27