Kentucky on the verge of best freshman class EVER


From the Vancouver Sun (Canadians are excellent writers, ask Jamaal Magloire)

They don’t have a catchy nickname like Michigan’s Fab Five.

No one has launched a Dance Craze like John Wall or become a larger-than-life personality like DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins.

Yet Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague and Kyle Wiltjer are one win away from doing something extraordinary: Forming the nucleus of an NCAA championship team as true freshmen.

If Kentucky claims its eighth NCAA title tonight by subduing the game and gritty Kansas Jayhawks, UK’s four freshmen – three starters and a key reserve – will have a claim on having produced the greatest season by a freshman class in college basketball history.

“It would be special, really special,” Kidd-Gilchrist said of UK’s freshman-class legacy. “But we have to win the (Kansas) game first.”

If Kentucky does win, however, what freshman class has ever had the one-year impact on college basketball the current UK freshmen have enjoyed?

Last year’s Connecticut national champs had five freshmen in their top seven players, but Jeremy Lamb was the only real first-year standout. Besides, that was junior star Kemba Walker’s team.

When it claimed the 2003 NCAA title with a surprise run through March, Syracuse started two freshmen. In Carmelo Anthony and Gerry McNamara, however, the Orange had a superstar (Anthony) and a hot shooting first-year guard more than a dominant freshman class.

With their baggy shorts, black sneakers and general swagger, Michigan’s famed Fab Five in 1991-92 clearly had a bigger impact on the culture of the game than the current Cats freshmen.

That Michigan team, which by the end of the year was starting five freshmen, including Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard and Chris Webber, also made the NCAA finals.

Yet those Wolverines went 25-9, finished third in the Big Ten and were routed in the 1992 NCAA championship by Duke, 71-51.

Kentucky goes into Monday night’s NCAA championship with a 37-2 record, an undefeated Southeastern Conference regular-season title behind it and the favorite’s role in the national title game.

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