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Debating Coach Cal's UK Dream Team

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John Calipari coached seven first-round picks in his first two seasons at Kentucky. (Chet White, UK Athletics) John Calipari coached seven first-round picks in his first two seasons at Kentucky. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Twelve five-star signees, nine NBA draft picks, five lottery choices.

The parade of talent that has come through Lexington since John Calipari arrived in April 2009 is unprecedented in recent college basketball history.

In each of his three seasons at Kentucky, Calipari has coached that talent to an Elite Eight, a Final Four and now a No. 1 ranking with his 2011-12 team despite sending his stars off to careers at the next level each June.

With all that talent over just a three-year period, how scary of a starting five could be fielded if you combined it all?

It's a conversation that's been had around the Bluegrass as well as on Twitter and message boards, but we wanted to formalize it a bit. For a while, I tried to wrestle with it myself to put together my own Coach Cal UK Dream Team, but the decisions were too hard.

Should I pick a back court with two point guards? Do I go with a lineup with offensive firepower or the ability to shut down opponents? Is outside shooting or the ability to penetrate more important?

Ultimately, I had to call on people who know more than I do. I solicited the opinions of four college basketball experts, two local and two national, to weigh in and pick their All-Calipari starting five from the group of UK's nine recent draft picks and the top six contributors from this year's team, listed in alphabetical order:

Eric Bledsoe; DeMarcus Cousins; Anthony Davis; Josh Harrellson; Terrence Jones; Enes Kanter; Michael Kidd-Gilchrist; Brandon Knight; Doron Lamb; DeAndre Liggins; Darius Miller; Daniel Orton; Patrick Patterson; Marquis Teague; John Wall.

The four experts were asked only to put together the five players that would make the best starting group for the college game. No restrictions were put in place based on positions. Here are the results:

Gary Parrish, CBSSports.com, @GaryParrishCBS on Twitter

John Wall
Doron Lamb
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
DeMarcus Cousins
Anthony Davis

"John Wall, Michael-Kidd Gilchrist and Anthony Davis are no-brainers because they give you an elite point guard, an elite wing (who can guard and dunk) and an elite shot-blocking big. I then went with Doron Lamb at shooting guard over Eric Bledsoe (and even Brandon Knight) because I want a shooter in that spot, just somebody who can keep defenses honest. And then I completed the starting lineup by reluctantly taking DeMarcus Cousins over Enes Kanter and Patrick Patterson. He's just so talented and dominant at the collegiate level. The reward outweighs any risks, real or imagined." - Parrish

Matt May - CatsPause.com, @TCPMattMay on Twitter
G - John Wall
G - Brandon Knight
F - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
F - Anthony Davis
F/C - DeMarcus Cousins

"With apologies to the other players who could easily have made this team, this is the five I believe would provide the most balance, versatility and defensive prowess. Wall's ability to get into the lane would be a perfect match with Knight's spot-up shooting stroke and alleviate the responsibility of having to run the show. Knight was much better when he could work off the ball to find shots and those two would be a blur in the open court. Kidd-Gilchrist gives you a defender with size who could guard the opponent's best perimeter scorer, while also rebounding and not caring about how many shots he gets. Davis and Cousins would be as dominant a 1-2 punch in the post you could find, with Cousins as the enforcer and offensive threat, while Davis has a bit more freedom to roam and use his athleticism." - May

Larry Vaught - Danville Advocate-Messenger, VaughtsViews.com, @vaughtsviews on Twitter
John Wall
Brandon Knight
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Patrick Patterson
Anthony Davis

"When picking what five players to put on my All-Calipari team, talent was not an issue. All the players are good and any five playing together would be great. So I went with five I thought would play the best together. Give me John Wall (passing and quickness) and Brandon Knight (ball handling and outside shooting) at guard. At center, it has to be Anthony Davis, the best shot-blocker Kentucky has ever had and a versatile offensive player. At forward, give me non-stop Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who has never seen a loose ball or rebound he can't get and Patrick Patterson, who has the muscle and overall game to team with Kidd-Gilchrist perfectly. These five could blend together easily because all have one huge common trait -- each values winning over individual numbers." - Vaught

Chris Dortch, Editor, Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook; SEC Digital Network columnist; NBA.com columnist; @cdortch on Twitter
 
"PF--So far, Anthony Davis, who's leading the nation in blocked shots, is the odds-on favorite to be chosen the national defensive player of the year, and he's got a chance to win player of the year honors in the nation and the SEC. He'll get better and better as he continues to show other facets of his offensive game.
Backup--Patrick Patterson.
SF--Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is my choice, but whenever Terrence Jones pulls off one of those games like he had at LSU--27 points, nine boards, three blocks, two steals--it makes me hedge a bit. Ultimately, MKG wins out because of his motor that's stuck on high speed and his competitive fire. I swear, when I saw him knock down that clutch 3-pointer at Tennessee last month--and it was right in front of me so I got a good look--he reminded me of a young Michael Jordan.
Backup--Terrence Jones.
C--Mr. Double-Double, DeMarcus Cousins, is the only choice here. Critics wondered whether a perceived lack of maturity would hamper him in college. Apparently it didn't. He was a first-team All-American.
Backup--Josh Harrellson.
SG--Brandon Knight. He played point guard in his only season at Kentucky, but he's a natural scorer who could have racked up a lot more points if he had been freed of the responsibility of running the offense.
Backup--Doron Lamb.
PG--John Wall was a first-team All-American, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA draft and he started a dance craze. Not bad for his only year in school. He's the most athletic point guard to play the game since Dr. Naismith hung his first peach basket.
Backup--Marquis Teague."

Among our four experts, John Wall, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis are each unanimous choices. Brandon Knight and DeMarcus Cousins both got three votes, while Patrick Patterson and Doron Lamb got one. All told, there are no bad choices in this debate.

Now, I open the floor to you, the fans. We want to see your Coach Cal UK Dream Teams and your reasons for your choices. Leave your starting fives in the comment section below or, if you want to take the debate to Twitter, tag your tweet with #CoachCalDreamTeam and we'll retweet selected submissions from @UKAthleticsNews.
 

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1 Comment

yowza...to think that all of them (except Patrick and Josh) would still be eligible this year is amazing...so with that, I have to eliminate those two right off the bat...but PG...JWall...SG...Knight...SF...MKG...PF...Cousins...C...AD....that's a team that doesn't lose a game...and is the first team in NCAA history to notch 40 wins...say it together..40-0...#8...ah...to dream a little dream...and of course, your bench would be Teague, TJones, Lamb, Miller, Liggins, Kanter, Bledsoe, and Orton (with Hood redshirting)...wow...40 minutes of hell...not bad having 4 all-americans in your starting lineup...and 3 coming off of your bench

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  • Dave: yowza...to think that all of them (except Patrick and Josh) would still be eligible this year is amazing...so with that, read more