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NBA exec says “Make green room reservations” for UK’s guys

Skal Labissiere
Photo by Chet White, UK Athletics

Skal Labissiere

Photo by Chet White, UK Athletics

Over the weekend, UK opened its doors to NBA scouts and executives for the second straight season. With seven players gone to the NBA from last year’s squad, this year’s Pro Day gave both scouts and fans a chance to check out the mysterious group of newcomers, which includes projected #1 draft pick Skal Labissiere and Jamal Murray, the star of the summer.

For two days, scouts and executives watched the Cats, and I spoke to one respected NBA executive to gather his thoughts on John Calipari’s latest crop of talent. In short, he was impressed.

“My first general impression is make green room reservations for some guys,” the executive said. “They’ve got some really good guys. Not like kind of good, not like ‘Geez, look at the guy, he’s draftable,’ You’re looking at ‘okay, is this guy a 1-2-3 (pick) type guy, is he a green room type guy, is he a first round guy, is he first round/early second?’ The talent jumps out.”

But of course, this being Kentucky, that’s not surprising.

“The names change, but the stories remain the same. You’ll be looking in the green room and there will be a number of guys with Wildcat hats on,” the executive said.

“You’re not going to have a 1-2-3 conversation and not have Skal in it.”

Who are some of the guys our contact envisions being in that green room at the NBA Draft next June?

“Skal and Murray are easy green room guys. Easy,” he said. “Tyler [Ulis], there’s really no question, Tyler will have a decision to make to decide if he wants to enter today or tomorrow. It’ll be his choice.”

The executive said it became clear very quickly that the 7′ Skal lives up to his billing as the potential number one pick.

“When you look at him, you know he’s in the 1-2-3 (pick) conversation,” he said. “You’re not going to have a 1-2-3 conversation and not have Skal in it. It takes about five minutes to figure that out.”

In fact, the executive said that kind of certainty allowed him to spend more time evaluating other players.

“You watch Skal the first day in Lexington, and the second day, you’re working on other guys because you have him figured out.”


Photo by Chet White, UK Athletics

Murray may still be a mystery to fans, but the executive said seeing the talented guard during UK’s pro day was further proof he’ll be a lottery pick in June.

“If you watched him in the international competition this summer, there’s nothing to talk about,” he said. “If you saw him in the Pan Am games this summer, make your green room reservations.”

“Historically, it has proven foolish to bet against John in developing guys.”

Earlier this week, Adam Zagoria cited a scout who said freshman Isaac Humphries was one of the three most impressive players at the combine. Because Humphries is only 17 and won’t be eligible for the draft until 2017, the executive we spoke to said he didn’t spend too much time focusing on him.

“Honestly, you kind of put him off to the side if you’re looking at him as a professional evaluator because he won’t be eligible until 2017. You make some notes on him, but you have time on him versus where you’re looking at Murray or Briscoe, you’re intense on those guys because they’re only going to be here a minute or two.”

Does that mean Briscoe should be lumped into the handful of guys who may head to the league next summer? Our executive turned to horse racing terms to explain.

“If you’re at Keeneland, you’re looking at him as a Derby possibility. It’s going to take some time to develop and all that stuff, but as a professional evaluator, you have to skew things with Kentucky because of Cal’s track record. You look at his past performances, he brings them along quickly. That’s the record of this trainer. When Briscoe’s playing downhill and is allowed to use his speed and strength and everything, you see that transformation right away. You watch him and see what Cal does with this guy. Historically, it has proven foolish to bet against John in developing guys.”

“He went from not on my radar to on my radar.”

Alex Poythress didn’t go through some of the drills, but our executive said it’s not a question of if he’s going to be drafted, but where.

“Alex is going to be in the league. He’s going to be in the league. We haven’t seen him seriously post-injury and it looks like he still has some physical work to do there. It’s just going to be a conversation of is he a first rounder or a second rounder?”

The executive noted that Marcus Lee “looks better” and without a stable of bigs in front of him, will finally have a chance to showcase his talent.

“Last year you have to completely throw out because he was on this team that was just incredible and now he’s gonna get a chance to play and let’s see what he does with it. He’s clearly a better player than he was a year ago at this time. John’s getting him better and we’re going to find out how much better.”

Charles Matthews

Photo by Chet White, UK Athletics

The executive didn’t hesitate when I asked him which player surprised him the most: freshman guard Charles Matthews.

“He jumped out at me as a defender and worker,” he said, echoing the feedback Calipari mentioned during his media day press conference this morning. “He got my attention. I had not seen him before. He went from not on my radar to on my radar.”

“You keep a close eye on the Kentucky guys because John’s not going to hold them back”

The most cynical of reporters like to spin UK’s Pro Day as another media opportunity for a program constantly in the spotlight. While that’s partially true, the executive we spoke to said it gives him and his colleagues a head start on tracking the best prospects for next year.

“You can’t name a program that is more evaluated, scrutinized, spent time at because you know they have pros and you know Cal is going to develop them and you know he’s not going to hold him back,” he said. “You keep a close eye on the Kentucky guys because John’s not going to hold them back. It’s different. It’s different than it is in most places.”

“If I was in the NBA’s green room, I’d be saying ‘How many reservations? Three? Four? How many seats should I set aside?'”

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

16 Comments for NBA exec says “Make green room reservations” for UK’s guys

  1. Microphone Cheque
    4:25 pm October 14, 2015 Permalink

    Wow. Not sure why a kid offered by Cal would choose to play anywhere else…unless he doesn’t believe he’s good enough.

  2. Blue Ribbon
    4:32 pm October 14, 2015 Permalink

    I echo the comments from above…that’s some heavy praise from NBA scouts/execs. I’m not sure why a kid would pass on UK unless he wanted to be “the man” on the court. Cal has said many times “this isn’t for everyone”. I’d sure try to make if for me if given the opportunity to play for Cal and put aside whatever takes me away from UK!

  3. poppycat
    4:57 pm October 14, 2015 Permalink

    Did he say Ulis in lottery……….not quite sure what he meant.?

  4. Kyle
    5:04 pm October 14, 2015 Permalink

    Wonderful article, Tyler. The best of its ilk I’ve read since the Pro Day.

  5. Megan
    5:06 pm October 14, 2015 Permalink

    I hope recruits read what this NBA executive has to say.

  6. inside info2
    5:19 pm October 14, 2015 Permalink

    This is going to be a fun year.

    • inside info2
      6:19 pm October 14, 2015 Permalink

      If they lose a game though, it’s because Cal is stubborn and arrogant and I hate him and Drew Franklin.

    • inside info2
      7:48 pm October 14, 2015 Permalink

      I don’t hate Drew. I just think he’s been slacking on the site lately

  7. CW
    5:28 pm October 14, 2015 Permalink

    I’m having trouble finding a weakness with this team. When you’ve got a guard heavy line up like ours that can put the ball on the floor and either find the right man or drive and score/get fouled, we will be tough to beat. I think teams, even if they can score on us, will have trouble containing our guards. Our offense will just be too explosive for a lot of teams to keep up with.

  8. Andrew
    5:44 pm October 14, 2015 Permalink

    Call me crazy, but I’m most excited about Charles Matthews on this year’s team

    • Jus Sayin
      5:56 pm October 14, 2015 Permalink

      Remember when people were mad that we got Charles Mathews instead of Luke Kennard?

      Remember how Luke Kennard went to Duke because he didn’t want to be stuck behind One and dones?

      Times change

  9. ukcory15
    5:53 pm October 14, 2015 Permalink

    Yeah someone needs to make sure the recruits who visit Big Blue Madness see this. If u want to make it to the NBA then UK has to be ur #1 choice if u have an offer.

  10. facts
    6:59 pm October 14, 2015 Permalink

    NBA exec says,and the “big bleu nuts” never question the truth in these statements by your writer.Never dawns on you that Matt,T.T. or the rest of Matt’s sheep would stretch the truth.Frigging joke.

    • Ha!
      7:04 pm October 14, 2015 Permalink

      You are a sad, sad little man, Jim.

      Now, run along and talk about how awesome your FIFTIETH RANKED Tard team is gonna be this year. And make some predictions about how much you are gonna lose by at Rupp this year. I’m gonna predict UK by about 25-30. Bitch. 1-7 😉


    • facts
      7:58 am October 15, 2015 Permalink

      Ha, just so you know,I am neither sad nor small nor stupid.Show me one more news clip where the NBA exec made the statement that he supposedly made to TT.Matt does that all the time and you “Big Bleu” fools eat it up and go to “Pay Day Loans” and borrow more money to buy the latest “Big Bleu” T-shirt or cap and pay double because it’s blue and has UK on it.I see UK fans all the time with a new cap,T-shirt and dirty wore out pants and shoes.Looks real good.~

    • Ha!
      2:59 pm October 15, 2015 Permalink

      Holy shit you are an idiot. And yes, you are ALL of those things. I promise. 😉