Anderson and Edwards also will see time at small forward. Edwards keyed both wins over Georgia last season, especially the game played in Athens. The Miami native scored five points with the UK lead at one in the closing moments to boost the Wildcats to victory.
At power forward, senior Jared Prickett steps back into the lineup after missing most of last season with a weak left knee. The 6-9, 235-pound native of Fairmont, W.Va., has played in 105 games in his UK career with 42 starts. His career contains such highlights as a 22-point performance vs. Florida State in
UK's romp to the 1993 Final Four; and a 20-rebound effort against eventual national champ Arkansas in 1994.
His injury — a bone growth that was removed in June 1995 — did not heal properly. It may have been a blessing in disguise.
"As it turned out for Jared Prickett, and as it turned out for the team, it was a blessing all the way around," Pitino said. "It was a blessing for Jared because Antoine went hardship. If Antoine's back, Jared doesn't start. Even though he redshirted, he would still just play 18 minutes a game. But that was better than eight minutes per game if he had been healthy last year. Now, with Walker gone, he goes to 30 minutes per game.
"So Jared's best friend right now is Antoine."
Oliver Simmons, a returning 6-9 sophomore, gained 10 pounds over the summer and should see action in a reserve role behind Prickett. The big redhead played in 21 games last season, with 37 points and 24 rebounds. He gained valuable experience on the jayvee squad, where he averaged a double-double, 18.6 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
Scott Padgett, a 6-9 forward, sat out the championship season due to academic difficulties, but the staff expects a stronger, more mature player to return after the fall semester is complete. He averaged 2.0 points and 1.2 rebounds in 14 games as a freshman in 1994-95, but his numbers jumped during the team's trip to Italy in 1995, where he averaged 7.6 points and 4-8 rebounds.
"Padgett is a big key to our ball club," Pitino stated. "He's like a Mark Pope or a Walter McCarty... one who can mix it up inside or step out and hit the three."
While the Wildcats have much experience at the one through four positions, their youth will dominate the middle. A much slimmer version of sophomore Nazr Mohammed returns with his soft hands and wide frame. While playing in only 16 games for the varsity last year, he dominated the jayvee opposition, scoring 23.1 points per game and ripping down 11.5 rebounds an outing. He also recorded 46 blocks in 13 junior varsity contests. He lacks only varsity experience.