NEW YORK — Doron Lamb knows from firsthand experience that Kentucky can win an NCAA championship with the proper blend of youth and experience.
A year ago, a Kentucky team with four high-profile freshmen (Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague and Kyle Wiltjer), two sophomores (Lamb and Terrence Jones) and one senior (Darius Miller) cut down the nets in New Orleans.
A year from now, Lamb says it’s possible for history to repeat itself if several of Kentucky’s current freshmen come back to campus to join up with the six McDonald’s All-Americans they have coming in.
“Yeah, it will be easier for everybody if they all stay because you ain’t gotta do that much to win a championship,” Lamb, a Queens, N.Y. native, told SNY.tv before the Orlando Magic lost to the Knicks, 106-94, at MSG. “You’re all great players and they all should be pros, so you gotta wait and see what happens.”
All of Kentucky’s current frosh probably won’t return. Nerlens Noel is projected as one of the top couple of picks in the NBA Draft despite a torn ACL, but Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein all indicated they plan to come back (for now).
If those three, plus Wiltjer and possibly sophomore guard Ryan Harrow return, Kentucky will have a lot of experience to blend with their blockbuster recruiting class, which on Wednesday added 6-9 forward Julius Randle.
Kentucky also remains in the mix for Andrew Wiggins and Aaron Gordon, who, like Randle, are projected as lottery picks in 2014.
“It’s a big factor having guys on your team that been through it and know what to do, know how it is to win games,” Lamb said. “Just teaching the freshmen how to win and let them know what’s going to happen before it happens. I was big on Mike, Anthony and Teague.”
Still, Kentucky will potentially have nine or 10 guys in the rotation and Lamb conceded coach John Calipari will have to manage expectations about playing time and roles.
“I think so, yep,” he said.
“It’s going to be tough. Guys [have to] compete in practice [and] see who gets the job.”
So can they win again in 2014?
“Yeah,” he said, “if they all stay, they are winning guaranteed.”