Well, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, decisions have now been made in the matter of which Kentucky Wildcats basketball players will move on tho the NBA, and which ones will stay, at least for the moment. Note that there have been no hints at transfers, but it is something that could theoretically happen sooner or later. Obviously, there is no time pressure on that.
The seven. Poythress here to watch now. pic.twitter.com/0boOYoS2eG— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) April 9, 2015
Who is leaving
Karl-Anthony Towns — There was never much doubt about this. KAT has matured massively in his single year at Kentucky and will likely be either the first or second pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.
Willie Cauley-Stein — Again, no surprise. As a Wooden Award finalist, consensus All-American and likely Defensive Player of the Year award winner, WCS is as ready as he will be.
Trey Lyles — Lyles came on strong late in the season, and his outstanding size, versatility, and skill caused him to surge up the mock drafts late. He’s currently listed in the top ten of most mocks.
Aaron and Andrew Harrison — Joined at the hip one more time, it is fitting that the twins take the leap together. It will be interesting to see where, and in Aaron’s case if, they get drafted.
Dakari Johnson — Interesting decision by Dakari. I hope it works out for him. He’s going to be doing time in the D-League, I expect, but he will almost certainly get drafted in the second round. You can’t teach his size.
Devin Booker — As the year went on, Booker kept improving and began to make his shot from both outside and in the midrange. His form is near perfect, his athleticism is better than many expected, and he is a prototypical NBA 2-guard. He may do a short stint in the D-League to learn how to defend his position, he never did have time to learn it here.
Calipari asks players to stand up if they are entering draft pic.twitter.com/nVTBDaF51f— Mark Story (@markcstory) April 9, 2015
Alex Poythress — By the time next season starts, Alex should once again be 100%. As a senior, he will be the lynchpin of Kentucky’s front line, and he would almost certainly have been leaving with the seven above if he hadn’t torn his ACL. He has more experience under Calipari’s system than any starter in the Calipari era. Alex will need to work on his perimeter game this summer, and if he improves it enough could be a lottery pick next season. Also, Alex may yet decide to join the other seven later on, but not yet.
Alex Poythress will go home and meet with his family. Sounds like he hasn't decided 100 percent yet.— Ben Roberts (@NextCats) April 9, 2015
Marcus Lee — Returning as a junior, Marcus Lee must develop a face up and post up offensive game to go with his remarkable athleticism and length. If he works hard, an NBA Draft declaration could be in Lee’s future this time next year.
Tyler Ulis — Tyler Ulis will be a huge part of next season. It will be interesting to see how he and incoming freshman sensation Isaiah Briscoe mesh. This could be the John Wall/Eric Bledsoe duo the way it should have been.
Derek Willis — Willis is an interesting case. He could either see major playing time next year, or decide a transfer might be in his best interests depending on who else joins the 2015 recruiting class going forward. He will be a junior next season. Derek needs to get bigger, stronger, and more consistent over the summer, but he could challenge for playing time if he stays.
Dominique Hawkins — Hawkins will just keep getting better, and I don’t see him going anywhere. He could see serious time next season with three of the four guards leaving. He needs to work on his perimeter game and handle.
Skal Labissiere — Labissiere has many NBA scouts thinking he will be the #1 draft pick next year. He’s so good, he’s a drop-in replacement for Karl-Anthony Towns, although his game is a little different.
Isaiah Briscoe — Extraordinary athletic talent. He’s nominally a point guard but can play off the ball as well. Gets to the rim and finishes, can shoot but is not a knock-down shooter. Kentucky could really use a perimeter scorer with their remaining scholarships. Briscoe is also an excellent defender right now.
Charles Matthews — Matthews is almost overlooked in this class, but he’s a big guard who can defend and score inside and out. He’s not a great shooter, but has good form and will improve. Could be at UK for two or three years. He adds depth and size to a somewhat smaller Kentucky back court, and could play some point guard in a pinch.
So there you have it, folks — what we know now. Kentucky needs front-court players, particularly forwards who can swing between the three and four. Another guard wouldn’t hurt, but I think Calipari’s focus will be on the big boys. For those counting, there are four open scholarships right now, so there’s all kinds of room to grow.
Finally, let’s wrap it up with a few tweets:
Calipari the best at setting stage He has turned leaving for the NBA into something good for program. Not sure any other coach could do that— Vaughts' Views (@vaughtsviews) April 9, 2015
John Calipari says UK talked to "about 20 NBA teams. Maybe more." for every guy. Parents also talked to the NBA personnel.— Ben Roberts (@NextCats) April 9, 2015
Dakari Johnson says his best memory of his time at Kentucky "those crazy shots that Aaron made"— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) April 9, 2015
Dakari heard late first, early second-round feedback from NBA. Woke up early, called mom. "I think I'm ready."— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) April 9, 2015
Aaron says twins "ready to break apart and live our own lives."— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) April 9, 2015
When Calipari said for everyone to stand up that decided they were going to the NBA, I'm just glad he remained seated.— KentuckySportsReport (@MyKSR1) April 9, 2015
Aaron Harrison says when he looks back in his time at UK "the thing I will remember the most is all the fun we had"— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) April 9, 2015
Malik Newman said how many guards stay at UK 'plays a big role' in his decision. Three of them just left. http://t.co/v5dIDY7Vdi— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) April 9, 2015