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Could Kentucky lose seven players in upcoming NBA draft?

uk basketball logoBy LARRY VAUGHT

Could Kentucky  lose seven players — five freshmen starters and sophomores Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress — to the NBA draft?

As unlikely as that might seem to Kentucky fans, it doesn’t seem that unlikely to some who closely monitor the NBA draft.

Start with ESPN analyst Chad Ford who indicated on ESPN.com Wednesday that UK could lose more than the expected trio of Julius Randle, Cauley-Stein and James Young — all projected first-round picks in every mock draft I have seen.

Ford agreed that Randle and  Young are “for sure gone” and put Cauley-Stein in the same category even though the sophomore explained after the title game that there would be reasons for staying in school — as well as having several millions reasons (dollar-wise) for going to the NBA. He has Randle ranked as the fifth best player with Young 16th and Cauley-Stein 19th

“The Harrison twins have wanted to leave all year according to multiple sources around the twins, but their draft stock made them iffy first rounders. I’m not sure it’s to the point that they are clear first rounders,” Ford said on ESPN.com. “Andrew probably has the most claim, but he’s not a lock. Another year at Kentucky would help.”

Aaron Harrison Sr. told the Houston Chronicle that he had not discussed the NBA with his sons before the title game and that he expected them to discuss the subject this weekend when the twins likely will come home. Harrison Sr. said about a month ago that he was fine with his sons staying at UK if that was their decision.

NBADraft.net has Andrew Harrison going 27th in the first round with Aaron going in the second round with the 35th overall.

Draftexpress.com has Randle going fourth, Cauley-Stein 12th and Young 17th. Draftexpress.com does not have any other Wildcat going in the first or second rounds. CBSSports.com has  Randle, Cauley-Stein and Young in the same slots with Poythress 46th and Aaron Harrison 47th in the second round. CBS has Andrew Harrison as the 61st best prospect — there are 60 spots in the draft.

Most assumed that freshman Dakari Johnson would be back. While he said he had not thought about his draft status after Monday’s national title game loss, he also didn’t want to say he would be back at UK, either.

“Dakari Johnson would be a bubble first rounder as well,” Ford said.

He said he’s also heard rumblings that Poythress could declare, but says he would be on the same first-round bubble as Johnson.

“I think there’s a chance all of them are gone. There are certainly rumblings that direction. But the only three that really make sense right now are Randle, Young and Cauley-Stein,” Ford said.

 Players don’t have long to make a decision. The draft is not until June 26 but players who wanted official NBA input have already had to request that and will receive by Monday. Those not requesting information have until April 27 to enter the draft.



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  1. Mike

    Probably hoping against hope but do hope that all except Young and Randle come back. Willie and the Twins would go a long way to locking us in without all the preseason hype the team faced this year.

  2. jeff

    Larry, You are one of my favorite writers. Love your commentaries. However, “reporting” on speculations are kinda silly… Could they all leave? Sure, but they could also all come back. NEITHER scenario is likely, however….. hows about we just let it all play out?

    1. larryvaught

      Jeff, key here is that one week ago I thought no way Dakari and Alex leave. Now hearing that is a very real possibility and that will dramatically impact UK’s outlook for next year

  3. Sully

    Agree with Jeff on this one. Ford’s stuff came out a day or two ago and is framed mostly as conjecture. Even if it’s all about the money, there are solid economic reasons for most of these kids to return. Need to let this play out.

  4. Phillip Barker

    Speculation really gets old immediately!

  5. Archer

    Isn’t speculating how we get viewership in the news these days? Losing these guys is all people talk about at the coffee shop and/or gym….

  6. S Bostic

    Yes it would be a sad day for BBN if all of those young men leave for the NBA,but I am so happy for them.I am happy that they thought so highly of our UK program to bless us with their talent.We all have to get a grip. That’s what coach Cal do.Take these young men and make a man out of them,also get them ready for the next level,and that’s also for the next level in life.If they all go or if they all stay, I will be ready to cheer on the next group of young WildCats year after year BBN4LIFE

  7. Phillip Barker

    I agree Archer, however so much of it doesn’t make any sense at all and is totally unfounded.

  8. Darrell

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they all stayed. They left something that they know was within there reach!

    1. larryvaught

      Darrell, I think not winning the title hurt these kids a lot more than many want to believe

  9. Anonymous

    Anom say’s, 5 leave, 3 make teams, 2 are in Athens. 2 cannot be separated. The 2 come back to NBA on same team. Perfect logic.

  10. Barry

    The media needs to get out of the business of trying to make news and just report what is news. All of the hype of this class did nothing but hurt all of them as far as developing into college basketball players. None of them are ready for the NBA but the media has already proclaimed that they are, and to a certain extent, implies that their draft stock will only go down if they stay in college. What has happened to the whole concept of being student athletes? I remember Jimmy Dan Connor, Mike Flynn, Kevin Greevy, and Bob Guyette weren’t allowed to play varsity ball. They played a lighter schedule on KY’s last freshman team with the design being that of letting them get acclimated to college life and their first year classwork. Eighteen year old kids should be allowed to be eighteen years old, but that doesn’t happen with our current system. The media is only concerned about ratings, the NCAA is only concerned about money, and the fanbase appears to be only concerned about winning. These kids are not getting a fair shake with this system. I don’t know what the answer is, but I hope the NBA, the players’ association, and the NCAA will put their own agendas aside to come up with a better system for these kids. If we don’t do right by them, then what does that say about us as people?

  11. lunchbox

    would be the greatest day in uk history lol what ever happen to daniel orton

    1. TheProfessor

      I wa thinking the same thing as I read through this thread.

      The greatest day in UK history will be if the all come back, and as each one leaves, the greatness of the day for UK diminishes.

      However, the reality is that UK’s roster is currently over committed for next year unless at least one of these players leave.

      On another topic, did Julius Randle’s tendency to cramp increase with the importance of the game?

  12. Barry

    Professor, you touch on a topic that everyone else has desperately tried to ignore. Julius did seem to have more issues with cramping in the big games. I’m not sure if that was due to the intensity of the game or the increasing difficulty of trying to play with the Harrisons.

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