Competing for the inside job will be UK's lone scholarship newcomer, Jamaal Magloire. The 6-10 Canadian import put on 12 pounds in his first month of conditioning at UK, and is projected to be an active defender while his offensive game continues to develop. He averaged 24 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocks last year in leading Toronto's Eastern School of Commerce to its second consecutive provincial title.
No doubt Pitino will have to watch the development of his two young centers, and if their progress is slow, he said he'll be quick to move Prickett to the five spot, once Padgett becomes eligible.
Regardless, the trio of Prickett, Magloire and Mohammed will give this latest UK edition a much different look.
"I don't think we have as many interchangeable parts," said Pitino. "For instance, with Pope, Walker and McCarty it was a three-forward attack. Now you have more defined positions. By that I mean Jamaal Magloire and Nazr Mohammed are centers, flat-out five men. They're not interchangeable. They don't shoot like McCarty, Pope or Walker. They are post people. Our power forward men are rugged players around the basket — Prickett and Padgett. Now we are dynamic at the one, two and three spots. That's where we haven't lost too much."
The schedule should once again prove to be one of the toughest away from friendly Rupp Arena. And with the earliest start date in school history, Nov.
15 vs. Clemson, the Wildcats will have only one month to prepare.
"Normally, I'm in favor of a tough schedule early in the year because I think it makes you better," Pitino said. "I'm not necessarily in favor of it this year because I think we've lost so much that we need our confidence."
Pitino's goals for this season are no different than any other year. It's just that winning the national title gives a program that rare option of repeating as national champions.
"If you dream, and place your goals to fulfill those dreams, then shooting for something very high, even if you don't make it, is worth the chase," Pitino said. "And that's what we're shooting for this year — to repeat as national champions. Now, whether we can reach that lofty goal with the losses we've had, remains to be seen. Without question, we'll be in the hunt."
Above, Jared Prickett will need to be a force at power in 1996-97.
left, Ron Mercer is a eason All-America