The latest issue of Sports Illustrated hit newsstands today and gracing the cover is Terrence Jones. The sophomore forward is a part of a Kentucky team picked No. 2 by Sports Illustrated, behind only North Carolina.
SI.com is talking about the Cats today too, with Jones on the front page of their college basketball page as well. Andy Glocker posted a Southeastern Conference preview in which he named Jones the conference's player of the year and UK the preseason favorite.
On paper, the Wildcats have much more talent than last season's Final Four team, importing four elite recruits to join forces with Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb and Darius Miller. Marquis Teague should star at the point and long-limbed big man Anthony Davis could be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft next season, but neither may have as good a college season as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who even if he's not starting, should pour in plenty of points from the wing. If you really want to nitpick, the Wildcats don't really have a true physical 5 to mimic the role Josh Harrellson capably filled last season, but there's too much talent (and now some experience) to expect anything less than an SEC title and a Final Four appearance.
Player of the YearTerrence Jones, Kentucky
In some circles, Jones is being overlooked because he's not new and because his numbers tapered off down the stretch last season. In this circle, give me the guy with a year of experience at this level who now is surrounded by significantly more talent than last season's team. This version of the Wildcats still doesn't really have a traditional big man (Eloy Vargas, anyone?), so Jones' rebounding -- especially on the defensive end, where he was statistically elite last season -- will still be crucial. With better players around him, Jones' offensive efficiency should improve, as well, so he's in a good position to put up strong numbers on a great team, the formula for postseason honors.