BASKETBALL; Watch out, here come the Wildcats

Even with four starters returning next season, Louisville's defending national basketball champions may not be the best team in Kentucky. That distinction could belong to the University of Kentucky, which just signed another outstanding group of recruits to letters of intent.

The tallest of these, 7-foot Melvin Turpin, will join 7-1 sophomore-to-be Sam Bowie in giving the Wildcats awesome size inside. Coach Joe Hall is already anticipating using a double-post offense similar to the one UK ran when 6-10 twin towers Rick Robey and Mike Phillips led the school to the 1978 national championship.

The addition of Turpin and three other prep stars "means we'll be in contention for national honors for the next four years," enthuses Hall, whose contract was extended five years after the Wildcats went 29-6.

Finding a replacement for graduating All-America Kyle Macy should be Hall's biggest challenge next season, but the arrival of 6-4 1/2 guard Jim Master, Indiana's "Mr. Basketball," should make the job easier. Also slated to enroll are 6-9 Bret Bearup of Centerport, N.Y., rated the nation's top power forward by the Midwest Basketball News, and 5-11 Dicky Beal, a Covington, Ky., product UK is touting as "a superquick, darting player with hummingbird-like moves."

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