I am bummed about the game on Saturday and just now getting over it. But I do also come bearing some thoughts:
— After talking to a number of people today, I think its very likely that UK will lose seven to the NBA Draft. This isn’t a revolutionary thought, as Calipari said tonight on his radio show that he expected to lose “6 or 7″…so picking the latter of those isn’t crazy. After speaking with some folks today, I am now in the camp that the one still deciding is Dakari, not Devin Booker as I had presumed. These two days (Tuesday and Wednesday) are about Calipari meeting with his players and giving them their stock in the Draft as he sees it. Then the players make their decisions based up on what he says. From what I am hearing, Booker is projected towards the 15-20 area and that would be enough for him to go. Dakari I believe, wants to go but is making sure it is a smart decision. He is the one remaining uncertainty to folks, but most expect him too to go. This could change of course (many things do), but is what I am hearing now.
— I don’t blame any of the players for going. For most, it is the correct decision. Willie and Karl will be Top 10 picks…the Harrison Twins have probably maxed out their draft stock while in college (I think they both end up going higher than people think…especially Andrew) and they were hoping to be One and Done to begin with. I am told Lyles’ stock is higher than many believe (10-15) at which point it makes sense to go. Booker and Dakari are tougher cases…one can make the claim that Booker could come back and go top 10. But that isnt a certainty…what if he comes back and has shooting slumps or finds his defense exposed a bit more? Maybe then his stock doesnt do anything or even slips. It is a risk to come back for a little bit of a draft bump when you aren’t certain it will go that way. Dakari isn’t an assured first round pick but most of the things holding him back (athleticism and speed) are unlikely to change. Could he rise after a big year? Yes, I think he could. But I am not sure how much. His is the toughest choice and I think either decision makes sense.
— I am hearing that Ulis, Lee, Willis and Hawkins will all be back. Rumors of transfer from any of the last three I am told are incorrect. Alex Poythress is almost certain to come back, but is still going through the process of trying to gather information.
— UK has three players coming in so far next year (Isiah Briscoe, Skal Labissiere (who is apparently killing it at the Nike Hoop Summit) and Charles Matthews). I expect them to add 2-3 more, depending on the final decisions by Booker/Dakari. My guess is one big man if Dakari leaves and two guards/wings. In a perfect world, that is Stephen Zimmerman and two of the Newman/Jaylen Brown/Brandon Ingram threesome. But it won’t be clear until after all decisions are final just how UK stands with all of those kids. Backup plans likely exist but hopefully won’t be needed.
— For what its worth, I do feel better than I have in two years about Calipari’s future at Kentucky. I don’t think its certain he will stay here until the end, but I also don’t think he has a strong NBA desire as he may have had at points in the past. If a crazy offer comes, you never know, but whereas two years ago I thought he would give the NBA a go, now I am less convinced. That is good.
Take everything I say (and life) with a grain of salt. But those are my views as of now. More on the radio tomorrow.