Sorting out position logjams

Who should start in Kentucky's frontcourt? VCU's backcourt?

Updated: September 5, 2013, 1:03 PM ET
By Jordan Brenner | ESPN Insider

Julius Randle, Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-SteinGetty ImagesJulius Randle, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein all should receive time in Kentucky's frontcourt.

In the NBA, a trade would be imminent. A pack of similarly sized, relatively evenly skilled players is considered leverage at the pro level -- excess at one spot that can fetch help at another.

But college basketball, of course, allows no such roster manipulation. And, given the vagaries of recruiting, programs occasionally end up with a glut of talent at a given position. Coaches refer to this as a good problem. They use the numbers game to make practices more competitive and focused. But an abundance of talent can also cause problems, as coaches search for ways to get their best players on the floor together without compromising their system.

With just a few weeks until the start of practice, four teams stand out for the combination of quantity and quality they've packed into specific position groups. How the staffs at Kentucky, Duke, Iowa and VCU handle the bloated portions of their depth charts will be a critical factor in each team's ultimate outcome.


Kentucky's frontcourt

In the mix:
Willie Cauley-Stein (7-0, 244, So.)
Julius Randle (6-9, 250, Fr.)
Alex Poythress (6-7, 239, So.)
Dakari Johnson (6-10, 260, Fr.)
Marcus Lee (6-9, 200, Fr.)

The dilemma: John Calipari's revolving one-and-done door typically has led to top-heavy rosters and short benches. But this season, Kentucky is loaded in the post with five potential first-round picks. Even with Poythress at small forward, there are only 80 minutes available in the post. And two of the four candidates -- Randle and Cauley-Stein -- are simply too good to sit for long stretches.

Jordan Brenner | email

ESPN The Magazine contributing writer
Brenner writes for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN Insider. He covers the NBA and college basketball.