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By LARRY VAUGHT
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no surprise that freshman Brandon Knight has put his name into the NBA draft and likely will leave it there because heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to be a top 10 pick. Even Kentucky coach John Calipari now acknowledges that based on what he told Mike DeCourcy of the SportingNews.com Wednesday.
HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what DeCourcy wrote about Calipari and Knight: Based on the information Calipari is receiving, their absence (North CarolinaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller and John Henson)Ã‚Â from the draft pool, as well as that of Ohio State freshman center Jared Sullinger, pushed Knight firmly into the top-10 range.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“How can I say no to that?Ã¢â‚¬Â Calipari told Sporting News on Wednesday.
He canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t and Knight canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t, either.
Calipari told DeCourcy he is still is in the process of compiling information on freshman Terrence Jones and junior DeAndre Liggins, who also put their names into the draft. Like Knight, they have yet to hire an agent and can pull out of the draft through May 8 and stay at UK as long as they do not hire an agent.
Calipari has had one scout compare LigginsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ pro potential to that of Memphis Grizzlies forward Tony Allen.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“(Allen) has transformed the Grizzlies,Ã¢â‚¬Â Calipari told DeCourcy. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Everybody is looking at DeAndre Liggins, that he could guard multiple positions. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s athletic, tough, comes up with balls Ã¢â‚¬â€ all the stuff they want in that position. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s getting a serious look now. I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t positive about it before, but I feel pretty good.”
Just how many teams would feel that strongly about Liggins remains to be seen and he still wouldÃ‚Â need to really turn heads at the NBA combine to jump into the first round of the draft.
Jones is still projected as a late lottery pick. Could he return to UK and improve that status? Yes. But his stock could also fall if he does not have a great year or if the NBA does not change its rule and continues to let players jump to the NBA after just one year in college. If the one-and-done rule is not changed, next yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s draft could have far more overall talent.