Will John Calipari be striking this pose again a year from now? It sure looks like a possibility. (AP)
Annual roster turnover has been a staple of John Calipari's Kentucky program in his three years at the helm, but that's hardly been a bad thing.
As he's cycled in waves of NBA-ready freshmen each season, the results have been consistent. He's 102-14 so far at the helm in Lexington with two Final Four appearances and, as of Monday night, now has his first national championship.
He's set a precedent at UK, and as the top dog among college basketball's elite recruiters, the expectations are so high that a "rebuilding year" isn't allowed.
Following the Wildcats' dominant 38-2 campaign and 67-59 victory over Kansas in New Orleans to top it all off, here's what we know about where Calipari's roster heads from here …
• 6-foot-10 freshman Anthony Davis — the National Player of the Year, Final Four's Most Outstanding Player and college basketball's most devastating interior force — is as good as gone. He'll be the top pick in June's NBA draft. No point in spending any more time on this one.
• Say bye-bye to sophomore forward Terrence Jones and freshman wing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, too — also first-round picks.
• If there was any hope that 6-foot-4 sophomore sniper Doron Lamb was going to come back for his junior season, it went out the window this weekend. His strong NCAA tournament showing was capped by a masterful 22-point performance on Monday night, highlighted by a pair of back-breaking second half 3-pointers that came after Kansas had chipped back to within 10 points. He was the team's second-leading scorer this season and shot 46.6 percent from deep. Nothing left to accomplish, time to get paid.
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• The wild card among the key underclassmen is freshman point guard Marquis Teague. He got stronger as the year went on as a floor general and decision-maker, and he definitely has the top-end speed to make him a special threat at the next level. But is he a consistent enough scorer? He's really the only UK underclassman who could do a ton for his NBA draft stock with another year in Lexington.
• Yes, Kentucky does lose a key senior. 6-foot-8 guard Darius Miller was the lone holdover from the forgettable Billy Gillispie tenure and was a key glue guy for the Wildcats this season, often a steadying force off of the bench when things got a little rocky. His numbers — 9.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.1 apg, 47.4 FG% — are replaceable, but making up for the lack of his mature veteran presence could be tough.
As far as returners go, getting Teague back for another year would make everything look that much better, as he'll be a year wiser at the point guard spot.
If he does in fact bolt, Calipari will likely lean on sophomore North Carolina State transfer Ryan Harrow, who had a strong freshman season for the Wolfpack in 2010-11.
Everywhere else, Kentucky will have talent and depth to spare.
On the wing, the Wildcats have a couple of intriguing returners. One is 6-foot-9 sophomore forward Kyle Wiltjer — surprise, surprise, another former McDonald's All-American — who is a gifted outside shooter, hitting key shots for UK along the way as a little-used reserve. He'll get stronger on the glass and more versatile as a scorer this offseason. More of a long-shot for key minutes is junior-to-be Jon Hood — a former star recruit who missed this season while recovering from a torn ACL. At 6-foot-7, he's also a strong shooter who can create matchup issues.
Then there are the incoming freshmen.
And more could join them.
Calipari has made a killing in his brief time at UK when it comes to landing top unsigned senior prospects in the spring. After Monday's win, he joked about having to hit the recruiting trail again later this week.
Though he wasn't kidding.
Three prime targets currently have his attention: 6-foot-10 Anthony-Davis-in-training Nerlens Noel, explosive 6-foot-6 wing Shabazz Muhammad and bullish-yet-versatile 6-foot-8 Canadian power forward Anthony Bennett. They are the top three remaining unsigned seniors.
If recent history tells us anything, Calipari will land at least one of them. And he'll likely win big again a year from now.
It's a tricky cycle he has going, but it's one that he can now tell recruits can and — if they fall in line — will net championships.
And, whether you like it or not, that's what's going to keep Kentucky a national title contender for as long as Calipari decides to stay there.
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