As expected, last night delivered a remarkable set of new milestones for Kentucky as well as college basketball in general.
For Kentucky, it was their highest ever draft pick, with John Wall becoming the first player chosen in the 2010 NBA draft. Sam Bowie represented the previous high player for Kentucky at # 2 in the draft.
For college basketball, it was the first time ever that five players from one college team were drafted in the first round. The previous high had been set by Duke, North Carolina and Connecticut at 4.
So what does all this mean? Well, I may be in the minority here, but I think not that much as far as UK milestones are concerned. It does mean that John Calipari has radically revamped the talent level in Lexington, but we knew that already. I suppose this serves as a kind of validation that Calipari really can develop talent, because only Patrick Patterson and John Wall were considered a lock for a first round pick at the beginning of the season. DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton were all players that figured to need at least two years in college, but that turned out to be wrong.
For the players, I want to say that I am proud of them all, and I am sure the Big Blue Nation as a whole is as well. We wish them all long, healthy and productive careers wherever they eventually wind up playing, and we thank them all for being Kentucky Wildcats.
I think it's safe to say that virtually everyone wound up going pretty much where they should have, although Ekpe Udoh being picked over Patrick Patterson or even Ed Davis is a bit of a head-scratcher. So is Ed Davis being picked two places ahead of Patterson. I really cannot see what the pros see in Davis -- he has narrow shoulders and is not likely to be able to carry much more weight, he lacks a perimeter game altogether, he has no handle and limited post moves. He is, in my view, a marginally better prospect than Brandan Wright, and all Wright has done is average 6.2 points and 3.3 rebounds in the NBA in two years, although to be fair, he has been hurt a lot.
But whatever. I would probably get fired after my first draft as an NBA GM, because some of these guys either don't know basketball or are making "political" picks. This is not to suggest Udoh isn't a good player -- I think he will have a long and successful NBA career, but there are many big guys more polished than him, and with a similar upside.
As for winners and losers in the draft, I am not really qualified to say, so I'll defer to those who know better than I. To wit:
- Mark Spears of Yahoo.com says that Sacramento, who drafted Cousins, and Kentucky are big winners in the 2010 draft.
- Matt O'Brien of SB Nation says the Washington Wizards (Wall), the Sacramento Kings (Cousins) and the Los Angeles Clippers (Al-Farouq Aminu) were winners, and the Indiana Pacers (Paul George), the New York Knicks (Andy Routins), and the Minnesota Timberwolves (Wesley Johnson) were losers. Guess he doesn't think much of Syracuse guys.
Frank Burlison says that Kentucky was the big winnner:
But Thursday night's results will only serve to help fuel a Wildcat recruiting machine that is rolling over all of its competition under Calipari.
Do you think there is a player Kentucky is recruiting — be it high school freshman, sophomore or junior – who wasn't watching the draft unfold Thursday night?
- Tom Lorenzo of SI.com says all the UK guys except Daniel Orton were winners.
So there you have it. Draw your own conclusions, but for me, this was a relatively new experience. I have not watched a draft for a long time where I didn't have to worry that UK might not have a draft pick in either round. This was not a question of if, but how high, and the answer was pretty darn high.
This is undoubtedly great for the UK program, but really, UK doesn't seem to need much more help right now. Everyone Calipari wants, he seems to get. That's all you can ask of a recruiter, and as many predicted when Coach Cal came to UK, the days of having zero first-round picks at UK are probably over.
Congrats to the new pros and their teams.