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Image 10 of Basketball, 1997

Part of University of Kentucky Basketball Media Guides (Men)

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1996-97 OUTLOOK question posed by admirers last season will be answered this year; Could UK's second team also be ranked in the top 10? "I think the players coming back were support players," Pitino replied. "They weren't the focal point of our offense and defense. So their impact remains to be seen." Tony Delk, Walter McCarty and Antoine Walker — all first round picks in the 1996 NBA Draft — were the focal points, and Mark Pope, a second- 4P round pick, was a key reserve. The spotlight is now searching for their successors... Derek Anderson? Ron Mercer? Anthony Epps? But stealing much of the preseason limelight has been Pitino's thoughts of redshirting senior Jeff Sheppard. The 6-3 guard was a key reserve as a freshman, started much of his sophomore season at point guard and averaged 13 minutes per game off the bench last year. Pitino thinks a year on the sidelines would allow the Georgia native to play 30 minutes per game the following year, increasing his chances to play at the next level. But the proposed loss of another veteran creates a hole for someone else to fill. Pitino's difficult decision will not be made until Nov. 14. The Lineup UK's two returning starters — Epps and Anderson — have the potential to be one of the best guard combinations in the country. While Epps dished out 175 assists at the point last year, Anderson will switch from small forward to his more natural position of shooting guard. The 6-2 Epps averaged 6.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 4-9 assists per game as a junior. He started 25 of the 36 games and owned a 3-to-l assists- Above, Jeff Sheppard will compete for the starting two-guard position. Right, Derek Anderson's pressure defense will be needed in UK's quest for its seventh national title.