Kentucky has a high number of returning players next year, relatively speaking for the John Calipari era.
A few of them, Quade Green, Nick Richards and PJ Washington, are coming back to improve their draft stock.
Granted, Richards and Green didn’t have stable draft stocks, but this influx of sophomores begs the question: How do sophomores fair in the NBA Draft under Calipari?
The short answer is not well. It’s not necessarily Calipari’s fault, but there’s a false belief that four and five-star recruits who struggle their freshman year can come back for a sophomore season, explode onto the scene and make themselves a hot commodity in the draft.
History tells us that’s just not true. There’s only so much progress that can be made in one year. Calipari has coached seven “two-and-done” players at Kentucky. Only one of them has been drafted in the first round.
Here’s a look at those seven.
Johnson started in 18 games as a freshman. He averaged 5.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while shooting 56.9 percent from the field to help UK reach the Final Four. He returned for his sophomore season on the 38-1 Kentucky Wildcats team, a season in which he didn’t start any of the team’s 39 games, but he still played more minutes than the year before. He saw a bump in scoring and rebounds, as he averaged 6.4 PPG and 4.6 RPG on 50.6 percent shooting.
Johnson was drafted in the second round, 48th overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Lamb also saw statistical improvement in his second season. After a freshman year in which he averaged 12.3 PPG on 49.7 percent shooting, he upped his scoring average to 13.7 PPG in his sophomore year. He also earned NCAA All-Tournament honors during UK’s National Championship run.
Lamb was drafted in the second round, 42nd overall by the Milwaukee Bucks.
Ulis flew under the radar in his freshman year, thanks to the Harrison twins being ahead of him. He played in 37 games but didn’t start any of them. He averaged 5.6 PPG and 3.6 assists on 40.6 percent shooting.
Ulis’ sophomore year was when he exploded onto the scene, and if he wasn’t 5-9 he’d have made himself a guaranteed lottery pick. He averaged 17.3 PPG, seven APG and three RPG. He upped his shooting to 43.4 percent, and won SEC Player of the Year honors.
Ulis was drafted in the second round, 34th overall by the Phoenix Suns.
Both of the Harrisons actually hurt their draft stock by sticking around a second year. Andrew averaged 10.9 PPG and four APG in his freshman year while shooting 36.7 percent. His numbers dropped to 9.3 PPG and 3.6 APG on the loaded 2014-15 team. His shooting did improve to 37.8 percent from the field.
Andrew was drafted in the second round, 44th overall by the Memphis Grizzlies.
Aaron’s production also dropped from season one to season two. In his freshman year, he averaged 13.7 PPG on 42.3 percent shooting. In his sophomore year, Aaron averaged 11 PPG on 39.5 percent shooting.
Aaron went undrafted but was signed by the Charlotte Hornets in 2015.
Jones didn’t fare much better in his sophomore season compared to his freshman year, but he still got drafted higher than any two-year Calipari player. Unhappy with his draft projections after a freshman season in which he averaged 15.7 PPG and 8.8 RPG, he returned for a sophomore season. In his second year, Jones 12.3 PPG 7.2 RPG. He did improve his shooting, thanks to a drop in 3-point shooting, which made him more efficient.
Jones was drafted in the first round, 18th overall by the Houston Rockets.
In his freshman year, Briscoe showed a lot of potential, and was seen as a player that could be a potential lottery pick if he could develop a jump shot. Sharing the backcourt with Uis, Briscoe averaged 9.6 PPG, 3.1 APG and 5.3 RPG.
His numbers improved in his sophomore year, but his draft stock didn’t, as he started looking for his shot more to prove that he was a better scorer. Briscoe averaged 12.6 PPG, 4.2 APG and 5.4 RPG, but still went undrafted. He was signed by the Portland Trail Blazers, but wound up overseas by the end of the year.