LEXINGTON — Questions continue to arise about whether Kentucky will have enough depth or too much depth next season after the departure of Brandon Knight and DeAndre Liggins for the NBA and the return of Terrence Jones after the Wildcats went to the Final Four last year with basically a six-player rotation.
Senior starters Darius Miller and sophomore Doron Lamb will be back. Senior Eloy Vargas, junior Jon Hood and sophomores Stacey Poole Jr. and Jared Polson will be back. Mississippi State transfer Twany Beckham will be eligible the second semester. And then coach John Calipari has the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class with Michael Gilchrist, Anthony Davis, Kyle Wiltjer and Marquis Teague joining the roster.
Jones’ return should mean UK will have more than enough depth for Calipari, who will admit he wants to have more than a six-player rotation for obvious reasons.
“I played guys too many minutes this year. I had no choice. You don’t play guys 40, 39 minutes. So what happens is their efficiency slips greatly. You saw Brandon at the end of the UConn game. You want to play guys anywhere from 29-32 minutes. Their efficiency becomes really high,” Calipari said. “Now, you want to know how they are judged at the next level? How am I going to judge you if you are playing 39 minutes and he is playing 28? How do I judge you? Well, he is getting only 14 points and you are getting 17. But you are playing 39 minutes and he is playing 28. How do I judge you? It’s all based on per minute and it’s all based on efficiency. How many rebounds per minute, how many baskets per minute- that’s what they do.
“And what I have told these guys is that, yeah, their numbers are up, but their efficiency isn’t what it could have been. So I don’t see that as a problem (next year). I have had teams here where I have played a lot of guys. It will be better for everybody. Practices will be wars. We may be one of the first teams to get six first-round draft picks (in 2012). No, we will be the first. That is the least of my worries.
“We will have guys like Anthony Davis who will do whatever I ask him to do. Those kids want to be part of a winning program, and they want to be coached and challenged. They want to play now. The ego is ‘I want to play 40 minutes,’ or ‘I want all the shots.’ I don’t deal well with that. You guys have watched me coach. That doesn’t come into play.”
On the road: Calipari went to the Dominican Republic last week to formally accept the job as head coach of the national team and then continued on to a humanitarian mission in neighboring Haiti, which is still reeling from last year's earthquake that Calipari and his team helped raise money for during the 2009-2010 season.
He explained to ESPN.com’s Andy Katz why he’s going to coach the Dominican Republic national team in its bid to make the 2012 Olympics. It sounded very Calipari-like to me.
"They want to recharge basketball in their country and use this as a start to build the basketball," Calipari told Katz. "The NBA guys wanted me to do this. We can train here. Our [Kentucky] guys will be home at that time. But the third thing for me is it isn't just coaching the national team. I don't need another job. I'm fine with the one I have. But like I did with China in helping with their basketball, they want me to help teach their coaches. And that appeals to me. This isn't just about five weeks of work."
Calipari has worked with Chinese coaches for years, conducted clinics in China and has had them visit him at Kentucky.
"They want to help build the foundation in the country and educate the coaches on basketball," Calipari told Katz. "They want me to do what I did with the Chinese and bring in 20 coaches here every year (for practices)."
Draft measurements: Maybe one reason Kentucky’s Final Four team didn’t need an abundance of depth was because of the physical conditioning the players had.
Freshman Brandon Knight and junior DeAndre Liggins were two of about 50 players — along with UK¿freshman Enes Kanter — at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last week. Every player who attended has his height with and without shoes, weight, wingspan, standing reach, body fat, hand length and hand with taken.
Knight was 6-1 1/2 without shoes and weight 176.8 pounds. His body fat was 4.2 percent — the lowest of any player at the combine. By comparison, Duke freshman point guard Kyrie Irving had body fat of 10.2 percent on his 6-1, 191-pound frame and Kansas freshman point guard Josh Selby had 7.9 percent body fat on his 6-1, 194-pound frame.
Liggins was measured at 6-5 without shoes and weighed 202 pounds. His body fat was 5.0 percent. Tennessee’s Scotty Hopson had body fat of 4.8 percent on his 6-5 3/4, 204.6-pound frame and teammate Tobias Harris, who was 6-6 1/2 and 222.8 pounds, had body fat of 8.4 percent.
Knight’s hand length was 8.3 inches and hand width 9.5 inches. Liggins’ hand measurements were 8.8 and 10, respectively.
Kanter, who was ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA last year, was the third tallest player at 6-11 1/4. He had a wingspan of 7-1 1/2 and standing reach of 9-1 1/2 (Knight’s was 6-6 3/4 and 8-2 1/2 and Liggins’ totals were 6-11 and 8-7 1/2). Kanter’s hand length was 9.5 and hand width 10.8.
Morehead’s Kenneth Faried was 6-6, 224 pounds with body fat of 6.3 percent, 7-0 wingspan and 8.5 hand length.
Georgia’s Trey Thompson had the highest body fat — 15.5 percent — of any player at the combine.