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Cats not ready to deal with NBA question yet until John Calipari does his evaluations

By LARRY VAUGHT

ARLINGTON — Kentucky’s players were still trying to come to grips when their 60-54 loss to Connecticut in Monday’s national championship game when they started getting the question — would they be back at UK or head to the NBA.

“I don’t even know. I am not thinking about that right now. I am just thinking about this game,” said freshman center Dakari Johnson.

Next he got asked if that meant it was too early to say he would definitely be back at UK.

“I don’t know. I am still trying to deal with this loss,” Johnson said.

That’s basically what twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison said except they added they would have to discuss it with their family. Ditto for James Young. Julius Randle, considered the player that would be drafted the highest, dodged the question, too, as he softly answered question while trying to handle the disappointment of Monday’s loss.

Sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein, who was injured and did not play the last three tourney games, had more to say than his teammates about what the future might hold.

“I have no idea. I haven’t thought about it like that,” Cauley-Stein said when asked what it was like to be together with so many teammates for the final time. “I am just trying to relish the moment with my brothers and see what some of them are doing. That is kind of how I based my decision last year (to come back to UK rather than going to the NBA.)

Two NBA scouts at the Final Four said Cauley-Stein was UK’s most intriguing prospect after Randle. His size and athleticism have scouts contemplating what his potential could be once he fully commits to improving his offensive game. Both said his injury — Cauley-Stein said after the game he had a “cracked bone, stress fracture” in his ankle — would not be an issue unless it was more severe than it appeared.

“I can see coming back. I feel this emptiness in me like I’ve still got something to prove and I’ve still got so much stuff to work on in my game,” he said. “I went up from last year and now I want to make another jump in my game. Could I come back to school and make that step and be safe or do I make the jump to the league and mess everything up? What if I go there and don’t do what I thought and I’m stuck and can’t come back to school?

“I love school. I love being at Kentucky. I love the fan base. I love the community. So why not stay until they make you leave? IYou just get better as you get older. There are so many things that go through my head.”

That would be what he called “millions of dollars” and being able to work only on his game without balancing school, which he called a full-time job.

“That kind of weighs in. My family weighs in. I will talk to my family and coaches and then decide what is best for my future and my game and if I could be happy either way.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari does not discourage players from leaving if he feels they are ready to make the jump. The question becomes how many of these players are truly ready — and NBA scouts warn that what happens in March won’t wipe out a season’s worth of observations.

“Well, I’ll sit down with each young man individually, probably have their family either with us or on a speaker phone and get them information and say, ‘If I can help you with anything, let me know. Tell me what you want to do, what do I need to do to help you?’ Calipari said after Monday’s loss.

“I kind of stay out of the decision making. I just get them information. So we’ll see. I have no idea because I haven’t talked to them and none of us have talked about that. We were playing to win the national championship. But now that the season’s over, it is about the players.  It’s no longer about the program. It’s no longer about the team.

“It’s about each individual player on this team now. They sacrificed. They surrendered to each other now, for our team and our program and our school. Season’s over. Now it’s about them. And we’ll sit down with each of them and they will make decisions for themselves.”

Permanent link to this article: http://vaughtsviews.com/cats-not-ready-to-deal-with-nba-question-yet-until-john-calipari-hows-with-evaluations/

9 comments

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  1. Larry T Clemons

    Bring everybody Back…lol

  2. Karen Sprinkle

    I assume that “hows” is supposed to be “help” in the above headline.

    That said, this is a tough decision for these guys. I read somewhere yesterday that coaches in the NBA don’t teach their players as they just don’t have time for it and that makes sense. And before I get jumped on, there’s a huge difference between teaching and coaching. Each of these players could benefit from another year of teaching/coaching not just their basketball skills but in how to handle challenges in life as well, but it’s hard to weigh it against the money that awaits.

    Best of luck to all of these guys for what has been one of the most memorable seasons in college basketball. I hope to see all of you in the blue and white again next year, but if not, I’ll be following your careers on the next level with great interest.

  3. Kokamo Joe

    I expect that players with the talent of our players have advisors away from the program who are feeding them and their families information. Those that do will use that plus advice from their coach to make the final decision.

  4. UKFMLY

    To be 20 and those are the decisions that you have to make. Go get paid or stay at a place I love and go get paid later, WOW ! Life is so tough! I wish all these young men the best. I think certain players should go because there is no reason to stay and it presents a higher risk(lowering you draft status or permanent injury) than reward(National title). Now don’t get me wrong I would love for all of them to come back but they should do what’s best for them not us.

    1. Larry T Clemons

      Agree 100%

  5. MARTYMAN

    First things first: I must say that I for one am very proud of this team, the way they huung i n there together and turned everything around.
    After reality sets in and Coach makes his evaluations I hope this happens from a fans standpoint. I hope that they all feel they have unfinished business to attend to and will all be back to go after it next year, all together….

  6. bbn cricket

    Like Karen, I also follow the kids to the next level. I would be thrilled if they came back to us but only want what is best for them! What a fantastic journey we have been on this year with our “Cardiac Cats”. I feel like I have aged 10 years but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world! I couldn’t be any more proud of them and – to quote my 91 year old mom – they are our national champions and that trophy was ugly anyway.

  7. TheProfessor

    I read yesterday that players have until today to request official NBA assistance in their evaluation and NBA input into their draft status. If requested, the NBA has until 4/14 to respond to the player, and the player has until 4/15 to withdraw from the process. The describe this a the “public” process.

    There is a “private” track with a deadline to declare for the draft by 4/27.

    I suspect that the UK players may be on the second track, and the input they are getting is coming from “private” sources such as Coach Calipari, and his assorted contact, their own personal cadre of advisors, etc.

    Has anyone heard of any UK player taking the “public” evaluation path?

  8. Larry Pup

    I hope they all come back for year 2.

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