Surgery will likely sideline Willie Cauley-Stein for Kentucky's foreign tour

Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein is seen on the bench with crutches before an NCAA Midwest Regional final college basketball tournament game against Michigan Sunday, March 30, 2014, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

The younger members of Kentucky's absurdly deep, talented frontcourt will have the first chance to audition for playing time next season.

The surgery Willie Cauley-Stein underwent after injuring his ankle during the NCAA tournament will prevent him from playing on Kentucky's foreign exhibition tour in August, John Calipari told That means rising sophomore Dakari Johnson and incoming freshman Karl Towns will likely share all the available playing time at center during the 10 days of practice preceding the trip and the games themselves.

“It will be a great trip for our fans to see this team for the first time, especially with Willie not playing,” Calipari told “Everybody is going to get more minutes and you get to see some different guys.”

How Calipari manages to juggle frontcourt playing time and keep his assortment of big men happy is the most intriguing storyline entering Kentucky's season. Kentucky's frontcourt includes five ex-McDonald's All-Americans and Cauley-Stein, a 7-foot rising junior projected to be a mid-first-round pick had he have entered next month's NBA draft.

Cauley-Stein and felllow 7-footers Johnson and Towns will compete for playing time at center. It's possible Calipari could go to a twin towers lineup at times, but Kentucky also has skilled 6-foot-10 McDonald's All-American forward Trey Lyles, 6-foot-7 combo forward Alex Poythress and underutilized 6-foot-10 former top 30 recruit Marcus Lee competing for minutes at power forward. Poythress will also play some small forward if he can sufficiently improve his jump shot and ball handling.

The August exhibition tour to an unknown location wil be the first chance for the newcomers to mesh with the returners and for all the Wildcats to demonstrate their worthy of playing a big role.

Cauley-Stein figures to receive plenty of playing time, but his absence gives Towns and Johnson in particular a chance to prove their worth.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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