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Kentucky phenoms choose 2013-14 preparation over other possibilities

May 22, 2013, 10:04 PM EDT

John Calipari AP

As a recruiting class that has been hailed by some as the best in the history of college basketball, Kentucky’s incoming freshmen will receive a lot of attention throughout the 2013-14 campaign.

And with the skills that players such as Julius Randle, Aaron and Andrew Harrison, Dakari Johnson and James Young possess a number of opportunities in basketball will arise.

With all being eligible (age-wise; not a lock that all would have received an invitation) to try out for the USA’s Under-19 team that will play in the U19 World Championships this summer that could have been a possibility for them.

But none will take part, and the group is choosing to get right to work as they look to hang a ninth national championship banner in Rupp Arena according to head coach John Calipari.

“Most of it is, they didn’t want to play. I’m not forcing kids to do anything,” Calipari told Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News. “I think the reason they all turned it down is, they want to get started.”

While there is the argument that it would be best for USA Basketball to have all of its top prospects trying out for the team, there’s also the argument that if they aren’t fully invested in playing there’s no reason for the players to participate.

In addition to the five freshmen devoting their summer to preparing for the upcoming season, sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein has decided to not try out for the team that will represent the US in the World University Games.

Calipari said center Willie Cauley-Stein was invited to try out for USA Basketball this summer; Cauley-Stein is eligible for the World University Games. But Cauley-Stein said he preferred not to go and asked if it that would be OK. He said Randle took the same approach.

“Willie said, ‘This is not the summer for me to do this stuff. I just can’t wait to get back. I want to get prepared,’ ” Calipari said. “I’m happy they’re thinking in those terms. They know the spotlight’s on them.”

For this group working towards a national title (and some have even brought out the 40-0 talk) is the priority. And if they’re as talented as many project them to be, there will be other opportunities to represent their country down the line.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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