Most Recent Posts
- Swiss Cat – Vacation notes and photos from Larry from his trip to Switzerland.
- Kentucky softball team earns 40th win to tie school record for most wins in a season
- Calipari says Cats will press more, foul more, bump and grind, hip-check next season
- Caldwell County sophomore Elijah Sindelar special QB but also has big-time baseball options
- Stoops believes he has special understanding of high school coaches
- Video: UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown talks about working with head coach Mark Stoops
- Dallas Prime Prep will bring marquee players Mudiay, Thomas, Ferguson to Marshall County Hoop Fest
- Father had biggest impact on Mark Stoops’ coaching career and life
By LARRY VAUGHT
NBADraftblog.com’s Ed Isaacson correctly predicted that two of Kentucky’s freshmen (Archie Goodwin and Nerlens Noel) would put their name into the NBA draft and two (Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress) would return to UK for their sophomore seasons.
Now he’s had a chance to watch Kentucky coach John Calipari’s next No. 1 recruiting class that includes six McDonald’s All-Americans and he offers his insights on those players and their futures.
Question: Could you just give me your impressions of each future Wildcat?
Isaacson: “Julius Randle: Skilled with good size, he can create matchup problems in different spots on the court.
“Andrew Harrison: Love the size at the point guard position, let’s him see the court and options easily. Has shown comfort in both the halfcourt and transition, but he needs to make better decisions with the ball at the college level.
“Aaron Harrison: Though Andrew is known as the point guard and Aaron as the shooter, their games are very similar. Aaron has the ability to hit the open jumper, but has shown that he can create off the dribble and sees the floor well.
“James Young: Needs to get stronger, but likes to attack the basket and he is very good finishing around the basket.
“Dakari Johnson: A physical post player, he uses his body well to create space and looks to finish strong around the basket. Footwork still needs to improve, as well as understanding how to defend in the post.
“Marcus Lee: Athletic and raw. Needs to get stronger, but his leaping ability makes him a threat around the rim on both offense and defense.”
Question: Is it too early to for folks to be talking about Andrew Harrison and Julius Randle both being potential top 10 picks in 2014?
Isaacson: “Is it too early, absolutely, but that won’t stop it from happening. If both make the same progression their freshman year that they did during their high school years, it is a legitimate possibility.
Question: Are all six of these guys future NBA players?
Isaacson: “I will say all six have potential to be future NBA players, but if there is anything we have learned by now, is that you can’t tell how things will play out once they get to college.”
Saturday: More with Isaacson on which new player has the most untapped potential, how the super six can thrive on the same team and how Andrew Wiggins might fit at UK.
By LARRY VAUGHT
NBA draft analyst Ed Isaacson of www.NBADraftBlog.com has a feeling that not only will Nerlens Noel put his name into the draft but that at least one of Kentucky’s other three freshmen will do the same even though he would advise them not to make that move.
Here is what Isaacson had to say about the draft projections/futures for UK’s freshmen.
Question: Who do you think stays at UK and who do you think puts his name into the draft? Do you believe Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein will all stay at UK as they indicated after the loss to Robert Morris in the NIT?
Isaacson: “I still believe at least one of them will leave, but I hope they all do the right thing for their career and stay.”
Question: Will anything that happened in postseason play impact who goes or stays?
Isaacson: “I doubt it. Guys are usually inclined to leave or not long before the postseason. In the best case, the players take their season as a whole and realize if they are ready or not.”
Question: Will the Nerlens Noel surgery in mid-March scare NBA teams when it comes to drafting him, especially at the top of the draft?
Isaacson: “I think it actually works to his benefit. With three months to go until the draft, teams will have a very good idea where he is in terms of recovery and rehab plans.”
Question: What impact do you think such a talented recruiting class could have on decisions UK players make to go to the NBA or stay at Kentucky?
Isaacson: “It is almost certainly in their mind. This is where you can find out a lot about what players are made of. Do they want to compete? Do they know its not going to be easy to get on the court? For many of these guys, that will be a new experience. If they stay and handle it, it tells teams a lot more about them.”
Question: If Goodwin, Cauley-Stein and Poythress do return, where must they improve?
Isaacson: “Goodwin’s biggest issue is still decision-making, in almost every area. Shot-selection, making right passes, knowing how to handle screens on defense. All of that needs to improve. Cauley-Stein is on the right path. His challenge is to turn himself from a great athlete who plays basketball to a basketball player who happens to be a great athlete. His one-year progress was definitely a step in the right direction, the fundamentals are starting to come along. Now he builds on that foundation. Poythress needs to understand the impact he can have on the game. He has all the tools, now he needs to put it together. All three have skill issues, but they should hopefully develop soon.”
Question: Could they hurt their draft stock by returning considering they likely won’t play as much next year?
Isaacson: “Can they go lower than they would this year? It’s a definite possibility though Cauley-Stein if he improves as much as he did this year will almost certainly go up. The more important thing is if they become better players. The key is better their chances for a success past the rookie contract, which depends a lot on being ready to play in the NBA.”
Question: Do NBA teams worry about players being too soft or not physical enough?
Isaacson: “In a way. If you are incredibly skilled, but not tough, it won’t hurt you a lot. Teams will know where you will need work. Where you play matters also. Will a big man who flinches when he gets touched have problems adjusting. Most likely. A lot will be determined by how much you really need to work at it.”
* * *
Follow Isaacson on Twitter at @NBADraftBlog.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Ed Isaacson of NBAdraftblog.com has agreed to share some of his thoughts on the recent NBA draft that had six Wildcats drafted, including Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist one-two.
Question: What do you feel getting Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers and Darius Miller adds to New Orleans? Does it help/hurt Miller to be going to the same team as Davis?
Isaacson: “Davis and Rivers will add a lot of excitement to a New Orleans team that really needs it. While the Eric Gordon situation is still up in the air, these two are a solid foundation to build the future around. I think it will help Davis more than it will help Miller that they are going to the same team. The amount of composure that Davis has showed at his age is remarkable, but he is still going to be under a very big microscope, so having Miller around should help him continue to have a comfort level during a period of unrealistic expectations. Besides that, NO is a good place for Miller to continue his career. They have a need for him and he should get a good opportunity there to play.”
Question: What do you think made Charlotte go ahead and take Kidd-Gilchrist or do you think that was the plan all along?
Isaacson: “I think the tipping point for picking Kidd-Gilchrist had to be character, energy, and desire to win; the Bobcats could have done a lot better in terms of upgrading talent with a different pick, but MKG’s reputation helped him here. I don’t believe this was the plan all along, but he was certainly one of 3 or 4 possible options.”
Go to NBAdraftblog.com to see his full grades for the draft. He gives New Orleans an A for picking Davis, Rivers and Miller, but his grade for Charlotte is not nearly as kind and he actually is expecting more from second-round pick Jeffery Taylor of Vanderbilt than Kidd-Gilchrist.
Here’s what Isaacson wrote: “I understand some of the reasoning behind the possible selection of the “high character, hard-working” Kidd-Gilchrist, but the simple fact is that the Bobcats could have done much better at #2. Charlotte needs someone who can create their own scoring opportunities, or at least score when they get the ball. Kidd-Gilchrist’s inability to shoot is going to make him a detriment on the offensive end, especially since defenders can sag against him to prevent him from trying to get in the lane. Understanding that players aren’t drafted necessarily for immediate contribution, but it will be 3-4 years before Kidd-Gilchrist helps on offense. Defensively, he will adjust to the speed of the NBA in time, but he isn’t going to be the great defender everyone expects immediately. I think Taylor was a great value pick in the 2nd round, and he will be more prepared than Kidd-Gilchrist to contribute immediately on both ends of the floor for the Bobcats.”