Davis & Cal discuss next season

Defending a championship. Kentucky forward Anthony Davis and coach John Calipari discuss the 2012-2013 Kentucky Wildcats.

Anthony Davis' shot blocking ability helped Kentucky not only win a national championship, but also lead the nation in field goal defense and blocked shots.

Now Davis, who is projected as the top pick in the June NBA draft, says that signee Nerlens Noel could have the same impact on next year's UK team.

"He is a great shot blocker. I think he is better than me. You just have to wait and see to find out," said Davis. "I hope he doesn't break all my records, but he might. He is a great shot blocker, great kid. So humble and down to earth and just loves the game. He's an outstanding player and will be a great player here. He's good to build a team around."

Davis says Noel has one distinct advantage over him in blocking shots.

"I cannot block with my left hand like he can," Davis said.

However, Davis did acknowledge Noel could learn one thing from him.

"The only difference is that he throws the ball up in the crowd (when he blocks a shot). I tried to keep the ball in play so we could get the ball," Davis said.

Kentucky's top six players off the national championship team will be gone next year — Darius Miller via graduation and Davis and four others via early entry into the NBA draft.

"We're going to have a brand new team and it's going to be hard," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "But you know what, that's the challenge of this, bringing a team together."

Sophomore Kyle Wiltjer, who averaged 5.1 points per game, is the only returning player with experience. Junior Jon Hood returns from knee surgery and North Carolina State transfer point guard Ryan Harrow, who started part of his freshman season before transferring, is eligible. The nation's top-rated recruiting class includes 6-10 Noel, 6-11 Willie Cauley-Stein, 6-7 Alex Poythress and 6-4 Archie Goodwin. Calipari and his staff are hoping to add one or two more players to that class as well.

"We've got a good group coming in and good players coming back," Calipari said. "But this team had Doron Lamb, Terrence Jones and Darius Miller, who played in a Final Four, coming back and a bunch of young guys who are really talented. Next year, we've got one guy with any experience and that's Kyle Wiltjer. That's it. Everyone else either hasn't played, has played very little or is a freshman. That's our team."

That's why Calipari is grateful a new NCAA rule will let coaches work with players a few hours each week during the summer.

"If you're a junior or senior, you're not happy with that rule — ‘You mean to tell me I've got to stay here all summer and work like this?' But young players like we're going to have? They're going to be so jacked up and excited about being coached, learning the Dribble Drive and all the other things we've got to do to get them ready for this battle," Calipari said.

Davis thinks UK could not only be "good" next year, but could be dominant despite losing almost all its scoring and rebounding off the championship team.

"They have a great recruiting class coming in. Again, No. 1 recruiting class. They are going to come in and work hard I am pretty sure and work with the coaching staff to get their games right and get prepared for the season," Davis said.

How does Calipari do it? How does he lose top players and still get UK back in Final Four contention?

"That was something I was really concerned with. How does he do it? I don't understand how he does it," Davis said. "He coached in the NBA, so he knows how it is and that's the one good thing for whoever comes to Kentucky or whatever school he's going to be at. He runs a program like it is a NBA program.

"He gets guys flying up and down. We do a lot of sprints. He says, ‘This is how they will do it in the NBA, so if you are not prepared, it's not my fault.' He does a great job doing that. I am glad he did it for us and we got the opportunity to play for him, so I am pretty sure running up and down won't be a problem for us at the next level.

"He never gets rattled. He tells you to always keep your heads up. Sometimes you will have a bad game, but keep your head up and play. He makes you believe that and it pays off.It did for us and it will next year. Coach Calipari just gets it done. A guy who wants to play for the best coach should come here. That's why I came. He pushes you hard no matter who you are."

Calipari said last week that Louisville "will be preseason No. 1" and said the Cardinals should be able to win the national title.

"They've got NBA players, they're talented. And Indiana should be pretty darned good with everybody coming back. We've got our work cut out for us," Calipari said. "For some reason, we'll be ranked very high again, which is fine. I don't know if they do that to get me or to make it hard on our kids, I don't know. But we're going to be young."


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