PJ Washington and his father both said they haven’t thought about the upcoming NBA decision. Kevin Knox’s father said there’s a chance his son returns to Kentucky, but those discussions haven’t started yet. Hamidou Diallo said he wasn’t ready to talk about the NBA so soon after a heartbreaking loss.
Nothing official has happened quite yet, but we’ll be hearing news sooner rather than later.
In John Calipari’s call-in radio show tonight, the Kentucky head coach said that process will start this week, but the expectation is that just about every player will put his name in the draft… for now.
“I haven’t met with any of them yet, I’ll do that probably before I go to the Final Four on Thursday,” said Calipari. “My expectation would be that just about every one of them will put their name in the draft to figure out where that committee sees them going.”
So again, don’t freak out when everyone on the team says they’re going to happen, because it’s going to happen.
That being said, the initial returns immediately afterward is where the real process happens. If a player earns a combine invite, it’s a step in the right direction. If not, it is likely in your best interest to return to school.
“If you’re not draftable, which means you’re not going to the combine, which then helps you make your decision unless you wanted to absolutely go one way or another,” said Calipari. “If you’re late first round, you may not be invited by the combine. So a first round or early second rounder, you may not be invited to that combine, and that’s where you’ve gotta be. If you can’t make the combine, you’re likely not getting drafted, or if you do get drafted, you’re barely getting drafted, and which means you’re looking at a season in the G-League IF the team decides to put you in camp.”
During the season, it was about the players coming together for one single goal: winning a national championship.
Now, the focus is on the players and their families. Most of the time, Coach Cal supports the decisions. In a “handful” of occasions, he has told players “I’m not sure you should do this.”
“When the season ends, it then becomes about each individual kid and their family. What is the best thing for you to do for your family? And then we support it. We’ve had guys in that made decisions where I was like ‘I’m not sure you should do this.’ And it probably didn’t work out as well as they thought it would. That’s only been a handful of guys, five, maybe six. Some other guys, I’m not sure. They worked their way in, but it took them a couple years. It is a decision I worry about, and I try to get them the proper information. I try not to tell them ‘you have to stay’ or ‘you have to leave,’ they have to make that decision. The way you have to earn your way and earn spot on the team, you can’t just say if you come back, you’re gonna get 20 shots a game. I can’t do that. This is a hard thing,” said Calipari.
Beyond the NBA Draft, Coach Cal talked about the Kansas State loss, where he said UK’s first two victories in the tournament may have “zapped” the team.
“In the Davidson game, that was a really good team. And then with Buffalo, to do what we did to them, we all started having these thoughts of ‘here we go.’ And I think that’s what zapped me, the team, the staff, the fans, and it’s understandable,” said Calipari.
Still, though, he does not believe his team “drank the poison,” the infamous quote he made last week that instantly went viral. Instead, they simply reverted back to bad habits and struggled against physical play.
“I talked about ‘if you drink the poison, we will not get by Thursday.’ I don’t think they drank the poison. I think we knew, we just weren’t at our best. You can say it was because of the physical play, the way K-State plays, I don’t know. We weren’t a team that missed all those foul shots. We weren’t a team that had bad turnovers the last eight out of nine games. Late in the game, we made plays. But we kind of reverted back. It may have been the moment, the stage, I don’t know. But I do know I’m proud of what they did for all of us.”