Kentucky: Real Fab 5?
Eight days removed from capturing the National Title, the Kentucky Wildcats made news Tuesday evening as all 5 starters from their championship team announced they will indeed forgo the rest of their collegiate careers to enter this year’s NBA Draft. This is the first time in NCAA basketball history that all 5 starters made such a decision after winning a championship. The 2004 North Carolina Tar Heels had 4 non seniors declare for the draft and we all know how that turned out (bums). The 2012 Kentucky Wildcats appear to be a different monster though. National Player of the Year Anthony Davis, sophomore big man Terrence Jones, do everything dynamic wing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, sharpshooter Doron Lamb & point man Marquis Teague are all names that will forever be etched in the hearts of Kentucky fans forever. Their stellar play this past season helped propel the Wildcats to national prominence once again.
From the onset they set the tone of a team to be reckoned with. They defeated the likes of North Carolina, Florida and the eventual runner up, Kansas Jayhawks on their road to winning their first title since 1998. Their unselfish play was a great example of how team basketball should be played as each player sacrificed individual statistics for the overall good of the team. Not to be forgotten among these starters is Darius Miller. The team’s 6th man and lone senior who received significant minutes this season, Miller was the emotional leader and hit key shots during the entire year for the Wildcats. There is little to no doubt that all 5 starters will hear their names called by Demon Ster…….sorry I meant David Stern this upcoming draft. It is logical to question if they will be key contributors at the next level so let’s dissect these players a bit more to see who they may fare in the NBA…
Became the 2nd freshman in NCAA history to win the National player of the year and is regarded as top player and potential #1 pick. Davis is a defensive prodigy who hasn’t even tapped into his potential on the offensive end. With a 7ft 6inch wing span, Davis either alters or blocks everything in his vicinity and does so effectively without drawing too many fouls. He has a soft touch on his jumper and can knock it down from 12-15 ft. A very agile player who has excellent recovery speed and timing. He does need to get stronger as he will be forced to bang with the likes of Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Love & Kevin Garnett. at the next level. More than any player in the upcoming draft he has a chance to be a franchise player.
2012 Season Stats
14.2ppg, 10.4 rpg, 4.7bpg 62% shooting
My Draft Projection: Top pick
Is all but guaranteed a spot in the top 5, scouts love his versatility and ability to play and guard any position. He never stops moving on both ends of the floor can be a pest for opposing players. Has the size and length to contribute immediately on the next level. A jack of all trades and an immediate impact player on an NBA roster. Very smart player for his age but does need to get stronger and develop a consistent jumper/perimeter game.
2012 Season Stats
11.9ppg 7.4rpg 49% Shooting
My Draft Projection: 4th pick
Was all but assured a lottery position last year but he chose to return for his sophomore season. This proved to be a wise decision as Jones improved on many facets of his game while bulking up in size in the process; he is an above average rebounder and can knock down an open jumper. He is projected by many to also crack the lottery in June’s draft. Is best suited on a veteran team where he can learn how to develop a low post game as well as defend bigger players. Jones is a bit undersized for a PF but has the quickness to excel in the league.
2012 Season Stats
12.3ppg, 7.2rpg, 1.8bpg, 50% shooting
My Draft Projection: 11th pick
Is a deadly shooter and can create his own shot (46% 3pt) but at the NBA level he will be facing much better defenders who hang their hat on shutting him down. Like Terrence Jones he is a tweener and a bit undersized for a SG. He is deceptively quick and moves very well without the ball. Has a knack for getting open and knocking down huge shots. He needs to add a different dimension to his game i.e. running an offense, defending & attacking the basket.
2012 Season Stats
13.7pg, 47% shooting, 46% 3pt
My Draft Projection: 26th pick
The biggest question mark of the 5 Kentucky starters, I personally think he’s making a huge mistake. Has a chance to develop into a special player but he’s simply not ready to go against the likes of Tony Parker, Derek Rose, Deron Williams, Chris Paul & Hell even Jeff Teague. Granted he was only a freshman last season but he showed he’s not always mentally invested, turned a lot of simple plays into turnovers he simply needs to figure out who he is as a PG. Teague played a ton of minutes as a freshman this season (32.6) and does have a lot of up-side. He’s a great ball handler with explosiveness in the open floor and finishes well with both hands. Can also hit a jump shot if left open.
2012 Season Stats
10ppg, 4.8apg, 41% 3pfg
My Draft Projection: 30th pick
Only time will tell how this Kentucky class will pan out, currently there’s a ton of hype surrounding these players but when the dust settles their skill level and desire to improve will ultimately decide how successful they will become. Kentucky has a long line of talented players that have left their imprint on the professional landscape. They have also had a list of underachievers and disappointments that “Big Blue Nation will always deny as one of their own. For every Tayshaun Prince there is a Ron Mercer or Keith Bogans & for every Jamal Mashburn there is an Antoine Walker lurking around.
If I can give one piece of advice to this group it will be simply this: DON’T BE THE NEXT ANTOINE WALKER!
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