Well that about seals it. In what was officially the second greatest night in Kentucky basketball history, all four Kentucky players heard their names called and now have a chance to make their dreams a reality. Since sometime last week, the term ‘The Kentucky Effect’ began to take root – and it was solidified with the second round picks of Josh Harrellson and Deandre Liggins. Back in the pre-Calipari days, some of Kentucky’s best talent would slip far more than they should – sometimes to the second round, sometimes completely out of the draft. Then it would be up to those deserving players to fight their way into the NBA (look at Chuck Hayes, Kelenna Azubuike, Keith Bogans – even Rajon Rondo went later than he ultimately should have.) Since Calipari and Kentucky began their glorious embrace, however, there isn’t a Kentucky player that NBA scouts won’t take a good hard look at. Polson is already rumored to be the top pick to the Timberwolves in two years. Coming in to last season the odds you would have gotten that Josh Harrellson would be drafted at all, let alone before Josh Selby, would have been large enough to earn you the money it would take to rename the KFC Yum! Center the Jorts Dome.
A hearty congratulations to all the Kentucky players that were drafted last night, and I’ll give you a quick run down of that and the other days notes:
— If there was one person I would have liked to see a camera crew follow around this past year, it would have been Enes Kanter. Mainly because he’s just so dang mysterious. Even headed in to Draft Day, no one knew if he would be taken with the Cavaliers top pick or end up sliding all the way to the 7-10 range. Then word broke that he was being considered by the Jazz – the team that had most kept their cards close to their chest – and all bets were off. Kanter ended up being selected to play in Utah, and will undoubtedly become the best thing to happen to that state since Joseph Smith. Not only did Enes promise to bring the Undertaker to Utah (in the form of himself,) he dedicated his rookie season to UK fans. As if we could have loved the big Turk any more.
— Brandon Knight found himself slipping a little as the night wore on, from projected top five all the way to number eight. He slipped into a good situation though, as Knight landed with the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons have been kind of awful lately, as they exploded the core that won the title in 2004 slowly year by year. However most people agree that the Pistons are now looking to build themselves back up rather than bring in a slew of hired guns, and Brandon Knight is a good piece to build around. With Tayshaun Prince there to help introduce him to the league, there’s a good chance for a KSR road trip to Detroit sometime in the near future.
— I have already mentioned how amazing it is to see Josh Harrellson get drafted, but I’ll do it again. It’s amazing. Jorts came in to the year as an Enes-less Kentucky’s biggest weakness, but ended up being one of their biggest strengths. He found a tough work ethic, and by committing to getting better and doing the things that Calipari asked of him Josh played his way to the final four and a chance to make the New York Knicks. I couldn’t be happier for the guy, but now the real work begins. It’s tough to make it to the NBA from the second round, but Josh has always been an ‘if they give me a chance, I’ll show them I can do it’ type of guy, from his first foray with Kentucky to proving to Calipari he should get a shot to stay with the team. Plus the thought of Josh bringing Jorts to New York is reason enough to celebrate.
— In a similar note, John Calipari now has the attention of every big, free throw shooting, white, junior college center he could ever want.
— For the second time in as many years, the Orlando Magic are to thank for rounding out the Kentucky draft night. Liggins was picked late in the second round by the Magic, and like Josh, will have to work his way onto the team this summer – but I think it will likely be an easier task for Liggins. Deandre has a calling card, fortunately that calling card is something that a lot of players don’t have, and it’s one that a fringe title contender needs – he’s a lock down defender. Every championship caliber team has one guy that they know they can assign to the other teams best player, and just like Liggins did at Kentucky, he can be that guy in the NBA. Coincidentally, the Magic need that guy since they got rid of Keith Bogans, who filled a similar role. On top of that, the Magic love to drive and dish to open threes which is another solid aspect of Deandre’s game. Earning your first contract in the summer is never an easy task, especially if a lock out does come to fruition, but Liggins is in a good situation for him and that’s all we can ask.
— Meanwhile, a few fun notes from the draft. As I previously mentioned, Jorts was drafted ahead of Josh Selby. I’m not saying he would’ve been a lottery pick at Kentucky, but he would’ve. Scotty Hopson? Not drafted. David Lighty (that guy from Ohio State)? Not drafted. Kenneth Faried and his Card Killing ways was drafted, as well as Lexingtonian Shelvin Mack. With Kentucky’s four that were drafted last night, that’s 9 of 12 players that have left the program to the NBA in two years – though Mark Krebs is now a regular feature on KSR so it’s basically the same thing. In two years, 9 players. As UKAndrew pointed out earlier – in 9 years at Louisville, Ricky P has had 4 players drafted. This is what being a players first program is all about.
— Jimmer Fredette will be suiting up with Tyreke Evans and Demarcus Cousins. I don’t know what I did to deserve that, but I promise I will keep doing it.
— On a sad note, this pretty much officially ends basketball season for Kentucky fans. On a positive note, the season never ends. On to 2010-11!
— Finally, here’s an assignment for you. Rank your favorite NBA teams with Kentucky players in the comment section, curious minds want to know.
That’s about it for draft night, stick around all day as we share our favorite memories from the mock draft season and try to come up with what, if anything, is The KSR Effect.