If you haven't seen it already, Drew Cannon of Basketball Prospectus embarked on an extensive project of ranking the top 100 men's basketball players in Division I. Five Wildcats, including three freshmen, made the list. North Carolina, which had six, was the only school that had more players in the top 100.
Let me be the first to say that I had never heard of Basketball Prospectus or who Cannon was until this release of rankings. But that's not to say that Cannon's rankings are right or wrong.
The reason the list is worth checking out is how Cannon got the final 100. As he explains it on his website, Cannon basically separated players into groups and then asked the opinions of several experts, including Dave Telep of ESPN.com and NBA personnel at NBA camps, before formulating a giant bracket. The explanation Cannon came up with to form the top 100 is a little technical, but the point is the rankings were well researched and, for the most part, objective.
Below are the five UK players that made the list along with an excerpt of Cannon's write-up. I have a hard time believing Darius Miller isn't one of the top 100 players in the country, but ranking the top 100 players is no easy task.
62. Marquis Teague, Kentucky (Fr., PG)
With Brandon Knight off to the NBA, Teague should take the ball from day one at UK. He's an incredible slasher with great speed and athleticism. Teague's not a real shooting threat and his decision-making has been questioned, but he seems like such a can't-miss scorer that I still feel comfortable putting him this high.
43. Doron Lamb, Kentucky (So., SG)
Lamb was sometimes considered streaky or worse from beyond the arc in high school, but he was only two makes from hitting 50 percent of his 140 three-point attempts in 2011. A role expansion would normally be in order, but Marquis Teague, Terrence Jones, and Anthony Davis will probably leave Lamb the Wildcats' fourth offensive option. He'll just be the best one of those in the country.
29. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky (Fr., SF)
In the summer of 2009 Kyrie Irving, Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes, Brandon Knight, Tristan Thompson, Terrence Jones, Perry Jones, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist were all at NBA Camp for four days. And, with a deafening lack of argument, the Most Promising Prospect Award went to Kidd-Gilchrist. His combination of terrifying athleticism and unwavering competitiveness is exceedingly rare. Both tools are elite, separately. Kidd-Gilchrist's scoring comes in the flow of the offense, though his long-range jumper leaves something to be desired.
21. Anthony Davis, Kentucky (Fr., PF)4. Terrence Jones, Kentucky (So., PF)
Davis is a serious talent with tons of upside. I think he's ready to play and contribute in the SEC right now. Davis was a guard less than two years ago, and he still has legitimate guard skills. He's a scary defender. It's just that I've seen him on teams with less talent than the 2012 Kentucky Wildcats will have, and on those teams he's been forgotten on offense for long stretches. If Davis demands the ball and takes a measure of control of this UK team, he'll have a tough time staying off the All-America list at the end of the year.
Jones's decision to return for his sophomore year surprised me more than any other player's. The lefty made first team All-SEC, was high on every draft board, and spent his freshman year under John Calipari. It seemed like a given he'd be playing NBA ball this November (or at least waiting for the lockout to end). But fresh off co-leading a young team to the Final Four, he's still at UK. Jones is a very good rebounder who can get to the line and rarely turns the ball over. His shooting percentages last year were just 47/33/65; if he lives up to this billing it'll be because those numbers improve. He projects to have significantly scarier frontcourt mates in 2012, where the departed Josh Harrellson and DeAndre Liggins will be replaced with top-3-ranked freshmen Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis. Defenses won't be able to key in on Jones like they could last year. With a little more help and slightly smarter shot selection, he should be SEC Player of the Year.