UK's roster will again be stocked with talent as it chases a championship repeat.
Out of that collection of freshmen, returnees and transfers, ESPN's Myron Medcalf says Nerlens Noel is the most vital to UK's success -- and ranks him the 7th-most indispensable player in the nation. An excerpt:
Anthony Davis was a special player. But his successor, Noel, could be a gem, too. He's a 6-10 NBA prospect with the defensive abilities to lead the nation in blocks in his first -- and (probably) only -- year of college basketball. He's surrounded by another Kentucky roster filled with future NBA first-round picks. But he's the key to Kentucky's goal of defending its national title in Atlanta. Last season, Kentucky had the No. 9 defense per [Ken] Pomeroy's ratings. They Wildcats will maintain that status with Noel in the middle. If he develops on offense -- he's very raw -- the Wildcats could end the regular season as the favorites to win the crown. Again.
Noel is the only scholarship player who has yet to practice with the team in the summer, but once he gets on the court, he will be crucial to the Cats' season. John Calipari's teams have consistently been elite on defense -- he's had seven straight teams ranked in the top 15 of Pomeroy's defensive efficiency ratings -- and Noel will be the anchor of what should be another stellar unit.
Read the full ESPN list, which includes Louisville's Peyton Siva at No. 3, here.