The University of Kentucky's men basketball team took huge strides this week for success next season. Although the Wildcats were likely already considered a top twenty five team for the 2009-2010 preseason, they are now considered to be a lock for the top ten.
Why, you ask? Well, Patrick Patterson is a huge reason. The Cats were going to have fabulous young big men in Daniel Orton and future lottery pick Demarcus Cousins. But those guys couldn't have led the team morally as freshman, nor could they have demanded the respect that Patterson, who will be a junior, can. Patterson was the co leader of the team this season, along with Jodie Meeks. After he recieved the knee injury at the end of the 2007-2008 season that kept him out for the last couple of games, critics questioned whether or not Patterson would be the same. He wasn't. He was better. He improved both his scoring and rebounding averages, as well as kept the Wildcats in the hunt for the SEC East crown till late in the season. Without Patterson's return, I think it is safe to say that the Wildcats were not a top ten team next season.
Another thing that Calipari achieved this week: the #1 recruiting class. Calipari already had Demarcus Cousins, Daniel Orton, Jon Hood, and Darnell Dodson coming to Kentucky. This week, Calipari convinced point guard Eric Bledsoe that Kentucky was the school for him. This was probably the biggest signing in Calipari's short six weeks at Kentucky and the most necessary one, especially if John Wall doesn't play in Kentucky blue next year. The Wildcats trouble's last season came from their lack of ball handling, as they averaged 15 TO's a game. The onlly reason they were even in the NIT is because Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson helped them score points. Eric Bledsoe gives the cats a guy who can dish the ball to his teammates and score it by himself.
There you have it folks, with Patterson and Bledsoe at the helm, this ballclub should be the hands down SEC favorite next season.
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