Wildcats Ranked Tenth in ESPN/USA Today Preseason Poll
The Kentucky menís basketball team is again ranked among the nationís elite programs, coming in at No. 10 on the seasonís first ESPN/USA Today Coachesí poll, released Thursday.
Duke was voted first in the preseason poll with 28 first-place votes. Connecticut was ranked second, while Kentuckyís potential Guardianís Classic opponent Texas was No. 3. Villanova and Michigan State rounded out the top five. Alabama was the only other Southeastern Conference school ranked in the poll (14th).
The Wildcats, who went 28-6 in 2004-05 and lost a heartbreaking double-overtime to game to Michigan State in the Elite Eight, return the nationís top backcourt in guards Patrick Sparks and Rajon Rondo. Sparks is the Wildcatsí returning leading scorer, averaging 11.0 ppg in his junior season. Rondo, who set the school steals record (87) as a freshman, was named a preseason All-SEC first-team selection in the media vote Thursday.
In addition to Sparks and Rondo, UK returns an arsenal of guards with experience. Seniors Ravi Moss, Brandon Stockton and Preston LeMaster join sophomores Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley and freshman Adam Williams looks to get in the mix this season as well.
Kentuckyís frontcourt boasts three seven-footers in juniors Shagari Alleyne and Lukasz Obrzut and newcomer Jared Carter. Joining the big men on the front line are junior forwards Sheray Thomas and Bobby Perry and junior college transfer Rekalin Sims, who has the ability and experience to make an immediate impact for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats will be without the services Kelenna Azubuike, UKís leading scorer with 14.7 ppg in 2005, and Chuck Hayes, the teamís leading rebounder for the past three seasons. The status of last yearís starting center Randolph Morris is still up in the air as Kentucky waits for a ruling on his eligibility from the NCAA. Morris declared for Juneís NBA Draft and failed to take his name out. He went undrafted and returned to UK in August. Morris has been participating in practice with the team since school began.