All it took was four words to change the landscape of college basketball for the 2015-16 season. The simple words “I’m going to Kentucky.”
That was said by Jamal Murray on Wednesday as the Canadian made his decision on where he would play college basketball after reclassifying to the class of 2015. Murray, who is rated as the No. 1 shooting guard on some sites chose the Wildcats over Oregon and immediately made them title contenders – again.
Murray is also a point guard, giving Kentucky arguably three of the top 10 point guards in the country next year in their starting five. It will be near impossible to press the Wildcats, which makes life easier for a team that now can go eight deep – which might be the most important part of the signing.
Before Murray committed there was a lot of question marks on Kentucky’s roster and rotation next season. The first being would the Wildcats start Alex Poythress at small forward or power forward? Would Mychael Mulder or Charles Matthews start? Would Derek Willis or Dominique Hawkins really be the eighth man on a Final Four team?
Those questions are all answered now. Poythress will slide over to the power forward position – at least to start the game and give the Wildcats a three-man rotation in the post joining Skal Labissiere and Marcus Lee. John Calipari can now play musical chairs in the backcourt with Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe and Murray all capable of playing point guard and pairing them with Matthews, the defensive minded slasher or Mulder, the knockdown shooter.
After seeing the Wildcats beat people last year with size and depth, this year’s team will be vastly different. No, they aren’t small by any means, but this is a team that will beat you with finesse. Ulis, Briscoe and Murray will try to drive to the lane and either finish with a little runner or kick to an open teammate. The return of the dribble-drive offense will be back next year with a team made to run it.
This year’s team will also be more athletic than last year, even though they went 38-1. The Wildcats will be able to switch on nearly every screen now, sans putting Ulis on a big in the post. But, Poythress and Labissiere can step out and guard pick-and-rolls while Briscoe and Murray are interchangeable on the wing.
More importantly it shuts down the critics who said Calipari lost his touch recruiting this season. That the platoon system killed his chances for another top class. The commitment of Murray last night moved Kentucky back to the No. 1 recruiting class on 247Sports. Bringing in two five-stars and two four-stars doesn’t seem too shabby for a down year of recruiting.
Rejoice Big Blue Nation, you’ll have another fun year and likely another Final Four banner.