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July 31, 2013Anthony Davis knows first-hand the challenges of winning as a team of supremely talented individuals.
He did it in 2012 when Kentucky won the national championship with six players who were drafted into the NBA the following year.
"We came in knowing that we had to play together," Davis said. "It wasn't a one-man show."
It figures to be like that again this season, when the Wildcats have seven McDonald's All-Americans on the roster.
From what Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Eric Bledsoe - all back for the John Calipari Basketball ProCamp - have seen, the new players have what it takes to compete for, and possibly take home, a national championship trophy.
All four said they've been impressed by Julius Randle in summer pickup games. Kidd-Gilchrist said he's like what he's seen from Dakari Johnson, his former high school teammate. Bledsoe said Andrew and Aaron Harrison have also stood out on the court.
And just like that 2012 team, this year's version will likely be the preseason favorite to win it all.
"(They) got a great team, very talented, so every time they play a team - even the underdogs, teams that aren't that good - they're going to try to come after them," Davis said. "They have to be prepared for that. Make sure they continue to work hard."
2010 vs. 2012
While this year's team has yet to find out how they measure up to those of the past, two former groups - the 2010 team and the 2012 team - will get the chance in the upcoming Kentucky alumni game.
Scheduled for Monday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m., the game will feature only players who are either current or former professional players.
The game will feature players from all four of Calipari's teams, with the 2010 and 2012 groups heavily represented. Of the players in attendance Wednesday, only Kidd-Gilchrist said he was sure he'll play in the game.
That didn't stop a little trash talk from starting.
Asked who's going to win the game, Cousins jumped in first, claiming the 2010 team was better.
Davis initially agreed before switching sides.
"2012," Davis said. "We're proven winners."
Said Cousins, "I got nothing to say to that."
NBA preseason game coming to Rupp
Davis, John Wall and Darius Miller are slated to return to Rupp Arena when their NBA teams play a preseason game in the fabled college arena.
"It's going to be fun to get back to Lexington and the University of Kentucky," Davis said Wednesday. "It's always great to come back and play where you went to school. So this will be a fun game."
The New Orleans Pelicans and the Washington Wizards will play on Oct. 19 - the day after Big Blue Madness - at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $10 to $250 and go on sale Friday at 10 a.m.
We look forward to playing a preseason game at the University of Kentucky that has such a great basketball tradition and look forward to the opportunity to play in front of their fans that are so passionate about the game, Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps said in a release.
Davis, Cousins and Kidd-Gilchrist (as well as Wall) participated in Team USA's Select Team mini-camp, designed to bring in up-and-coming talent who have future national team potential.
"It was a humbling feeling," Kidd-Gilchrist said. "I was surprised I made the mini-camp. Hoping I make the team."
Davis has previously made the national team, winning an Olympic gold medal in 2012. He's hoping to get a chance to repeat by making the team again for the next four-year cycle.
"Last year was fun, but I'm trying to do the same thing next year," Davis said. "Hopefully I'll make it."
Bledsoe gets opportunity to lead
Eric Bledsoe will get the opportunity to be an NBA starter after being traded from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Phoenix Suns this off-season.
"It's going to be a great experience," Bledsoe said. "Playing behind Chris (Paul) I learned a lot. Now I get a chance to play the point. It's just a great feeling that I get to orchestrate a little bit."
Bledsoe averaged 6.7 points and three assists in 19.6 minutes per game coming off the bench for the Clippers.
This time, it could be Bledsoe acting in a mentoring role. The Suns drafted former Wildcat Archie Goodwin in this year's NBA Draft.
"Two young guards going to come in -- I'm a rookie, he's been there a little longer obviously," Goodwin said earlier this week. "He has things that he can teach me. I'm all ears for everything. I know he's not going to tell me anything wrong."
Bledsoe sees potential in Goodwin's game, but said he needs time to grow.
"Archie's only 18 (years old)," Bledsoe said. "He's got a lot to learn. He's still growing, as a person, too. So Archie's going to be a pretty good player in the league."