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Why You Shouldn’t Worry About The “Mass Exodus”


Kentucky could, and likely will, lose seven of its eight best players from this past season’s Final Four run. Most teams in this situation would be devastated by the roster turnover, but this is Kentucky. And what do we say at Kentucky? Rebuild. Reload. (And as of yesterday, “We do whatever we want.”)

So let’s assume Karl Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, the Harrison twins, Trey Lyles, Dakari Johnson and Devin Booker declare for the NBA Draft, ya know, just for the sake of tonight’s discussion. Let ’em go. I’ll help them pack up and move. Would I like to see them back? Of course. But if they’re gone? No worries. Kentucky will be fine next season. Here’s why…



Tyler Ulis will be one of the best point guards in America.

Maybe the best point guard in college basketball.

Ulis is currently the 11th-ranked PG in Chad Ford’s top 100 NBA prospects and eight of Ford’s top ten PGs will likely go pro, leaving only Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jackson and Melo Trimble of Maryland ahead of him in the early 2016 prospect rankings. And of those three, Ulis may be the best of the bunch at the college ranks, especially once he gets the minutes and the opportunity to lead.

Earlier this week, Coach Cal said he told Ulis next year’s team will be built around him. With all due respect to Andrew Harrison, that’s something Big Blue Nation can really get behind.

Plain and simple: Ulis is a savage. He fears nothing; ask Auburn’s Trayvon Reed, who Ulis did not back down from despite the 15 inches and 75 pounds Reed had on him. His court vision is second to none. His passing, ridiculous. He is a blur with the basketball. His defense drives opposing ballhandlers absolutely nuts. You can not give him an open three-pointer. He will rip out your heart and eat it in front of you. And I mean that.

Be excited about sophomore Tyler Ulis.

Skal Labissiere is one of Calipari’s best gets at Kentucky, though no one is really saying it.

For whatever reason, probably his bizarre background, Skal Labissiere isn’t receiving the hype he deserves. That’s okay. Fans will soon know all about him.

Labissiere could potentially be, dare I say, a John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins or Anthony Davis caliber freshman at Kentucky. Don’t believe me? Check out’s 2016 mock draft, where he is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick. There’s a good chance he moves up two spots to No. 1 in the current 2015 class rankings, too, after he dominates this week at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland.

Yesterday’s Evan Daniels tweeted, “Kentucky bound Skal Labissiere looks terrific. Shooting the ball well. Been best player during this first practice … Hasn’t been close.” Some are even throwing around the Anthony Davis comparisons because of his size and athleticism.

So yeah. Get excited.

Kentucky will beat Louisville.

Next year’s game is in Lexington and Louisville’s roster is depleted.

Go ahead and put another victory for the Wildcats and an 8-1 record for Cal over Rick on the books.

No more “Why doesn’t Cal play Derek Willis?”

Unless Calipari is able to land Jaylen Brown and another stud forward, Derek Willis will get his opportunity in 2015-16. Willis has been patient through his first two seasons at Kentucky, when he would’ve seen quality minutes at any other program in the country, and his time will come in his junior season.

Now what Willis does with that time is up to him. He will still have to work. But those begging to see the Kentucky boy get some clock, next year is that year.

Isaiah Briscoe can play.

Let’s not forget, Kentucky signed the No. 1 point guard again.

Depending how things shake up, Briscoe will either play alongside Ulis or split minutes with him in the backcourt. Either way, Briscoe will come in as a guard that’s ready to go with the size to bully his way to the rim, right out of the gate.

“Pressure is not in my vocabulary,” he warned the nation at the McDonald’s All-American game last week.

Kentucky will probably beat Duke.

If Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow enter the NBA draft, as they’re expected to do, Duke will rely on a sophomore Grayson Allen, freshman Luke Kennard, Matt Jones, Amile Jefferson and a Plumlee to carry the load. That’s a good team, yes, but one that barely cracks the Top 25 to start the season.

Kentucky should beat that team in the Champions Classic on November 17 in Chicago. Only an unexpected Tyus Jones return and/or the signing of Brandon Ingram will make it a fair fight.

The veteran juniors: Dominique Hawkins, Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee.

Hawkins will continue to improve his outside shot this offseason while bringing that stifling on-ball defense back for a third year.

As for Poythress and Lee, it’ll be another year of flying above the rim and posterizing opposing defenders for the Cats. Throw those two guys in with Labissiere then imagine Ulis lobbing it up for more of our favorite #SCTop10 plays.

Dunks. Dunks. Dunks.

Calipari is about to light up the recruiting trail as it winds down.

With plenty of minutes and touches to promise to the remaining stars in the 2015 class, Calipari should have no problem reeling in a few more five-star players to finalize his roster. Who he is able to get remains to be seen, but fans can go ahead and bank on Kentucky having the No. 1 recruiting class once again with a couple more additions before signing day.

Get Jaylen Brown or Malik Newman and the Cats are running it back.

You should be happy for the guys leaving. No, you should be ecstatic.

They will be missed, no doubt, but the players declaring for the NBA draft are living out their lifelong dreams and they will soon be filthy, filthy rich. As much as we hate to see them leave Lexington, Big Blue Nation should be thrilled their dreams came true.

Because at the end of the day, Kentucky is Kentucky.

And no matter who stays or who goes, at Kentucky, we do whatever we want.


190 days until Big Blue Madness…

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

57 Comments for Why You Shouldn’t Worry About The “Mass Exodus”

  1. dgtuk
    8:14 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink


    Encouraging post. Mixed emotions about tomorrow but by and large happy for all of them. Still can’t shake the sense of “loss” from the final four. Love the team but feel really empty. 50+ yr old man with many blessings yet this loss is not going away easily. In the words of Adrian Monk….it is a blessing and a curse…… to be a Kentucky fan (last part ad libbed). 🙂

  2. bharlan24
    8:26 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    Still searching for number 9. Under these conditions we will not be hanging number 9.

    • Catsby80
      9:06 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

      are you a fortune teller? shut up.

  3. bharlan24
    8:29 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    UCLA has 11, UK 8, IU 5, UNC 5, Duke 5. Any one of these teams and most likely Duke will beat us to 9.

    • RealCatsFan
      9:00 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

      Dude, lay off the sauce and crawl back under your rock. And please don’t jump back on the bandwagon when it’s rolling again next year. 😉

      I’m as disappointed with how the season ended as anyone, but there is nowhere to go but forward. We got a little spoiled having so many players coming back last year. We will have some early growing pains, but we had that in 2014 and made it to the final game. Kentucky has been to the Final Four 4 of the past 6 years. Have any of those schools you mentioned done that? (LMAO that you actually put IU on that list!) You keep knocking on the door and it’s going to open for you sooner or later.

    • plumloopy
      9:01 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

      What?! You’re going to spot UK 3 NC’s and say any one of those teams (IU?!) will beat us to 9?

    • RealCatsFan
      9:07 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

      And with the possible exception of UNC, all of those teams owe those championships to a single coach. Wooden is gone, and UCLA has slid into irrelevance. IU is a complete and total joke – Knight won all of their championships for them. UNC will soon be decimated by NCAA sanctions in the wake of the academic fraud – they may possibly lose one of those championships. And lastly, Duke will slide into mediocrity when K the vampire retires (or someone drives a wooden stake into him). Remember how badly they sucked in 1996 when K was out with back problems? Meanwhile, UK has won 8 championships under 5 (count them, FIVE) different head coaches. What other program can say that?

    • Buckets
      9:26 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink


      UNC won’t be punished at all. Bank on it. Emmert already laid the groundwork by saying they can’t punish schools for academic fraud.

      “The academic quality of what’s transpiring in a classroom … is not a role an association should be playing.”

      They’re going to get off scot-free.

    • theWilkman
      9:42 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

      bharlan24 is another in the long list of morons who sat on the sidelines until we lost. Welcome back! The more delusional posts we get on KSR, the better!

  4. Sp0rtsFreq
    8:35 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    For the record, despite sharing PG duties this year, Tyler ended up with the #3 Assist-to-Turnover ratio in the entire NCAA!!! (Andrew played very well, but was 76th, for comparison.)

    Tyler also finished with a 3pt% that would put him in the Top20 of ALL players, if he qualified. Those stats made him one of the best PG’s, statistically this year, and if you combine that with his ferocious, up-in-your-grill defense, and an “I’m not backing down from anyone” mentality, then I’m not sure that there was a better PG in the country THIS year!?

    Go get your guys and do it again, Tyler!!

  5. Buckets
    8:47 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    So we get to start all over again. Great.

    • RealCatsFan
      9:02 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

      If you haven’t figured out by now that this is the way things will be under Cal, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s the way it’s going to be most years, at least until they change the rule.

    • plumloopy
      9:06 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

      RealCatsFan – to be fair, we didn’t have to start all over this year. We had players that returned and I honestly thought we’d have the same again next year.

      I mean, the NBA is full of guys going 2nd round that disappeared and I always figured you had to think you were going 1st round or at least were peaking due to recent success. Doron Lamb in the D league as MJ mentioned today is a prime example. I am frankly surprised that the Hrrisons and Johnson would be leaving. Johnson can’t improve his stock? What would WCS have gone last year (healthy) vs this year?

    • Buckets
      9:27 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

      Nope, figured it out a long time ago. Doesn’t mean I have to love it. It hurts especially bad this year. I thought at least Dakari and Booker would be back.

    • Gowcats
      10:27 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

      Agree with Buckets last sentence…sort of. I can understand that if Booker is projected where he is, he should take advantage of it. As for Dakari, it is his decision, and wish him the best. He has the body and I’m sure he knows where improvements need to come (footwork?).

  6. plumloopy
    9:03 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    You know, you’re right. This has happened before. I mean, look at 2012 when we lost every starting player. We were just fine in 2013, right? Right?! Wait, what happened in 2013 again? Oh, dear God.

    • RealCatsFan
      9:16 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

      I think 2013 was an aberration. We had a PG who was sick part of the year and was a head case, a shooting guard who was too selfish to pass, and our star player was lost to injury right about the time we were starting to show signs of coming together as a team. If Nerlens stays healthy, we at least make the NCAA tournament. And don’t forget, Wiltjer was the ONLY returning player who saw any meaningful court time, and he was a role player. Ulis has had considerable experience running the offense, Poythress has 3 years of experience, and Hawkins has seen some decent action in a few games last year and this year. As long as Skal is eligible, and Briscoe turns out to be as advertised, we will be better than you think. And everyone forgets about Matthews. He ain’t exactly chopped liver. You will get to see him in action at the Jordan Brand Classic on the 17th, along with Skal and Briscoe. Also, I would be shocked if Cal doesn’t bring in at least a couple more 5-star recruits. This week sucked, but the future is still bright!

    • theWilkman
      9:44 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

      If Nerlens hadn’t gotten hurt, we would have made the tourney as a 5-8 seed and past the first weekend. You can’t blame Cal for a freak injury.

  7. PhilUK18
    9:05 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    Great article. There’s a lot to look forward to next season, and it should be a lot of fun. We’ll probably lose a few more games next year, but I think we ahould still be in the top 2-3 to start the season and that’s fine with me.

  8. BTownUKFan
    9:09 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    These guys come to Kentucky to prepare for their dream job. I wish them all the best as they take the next step towards that dream. How many of us would love to get a 7 figure salary after one or two years of college. This kids sacrificed to make the Kentucky program successful and continue our tradition of winning, be grateful and start getting excited about next year. I’m 57 and next year gets here pretty quick.
    GO CATS !!

  9. bharlan24
    9:13 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    Realcats fan, I’ve been a fan for over 65 years. I remember the first Championship 1948. I’ve been living and dying with the Wildcats most of my life. I lived in SoCal when Kareem was Lou. I was a Wildcats fan then. I have Children and Grand Children that went to UL. I have Grand Daughter that graduated from UL. Also a niece that graduated there. I even took some courses there. I can’t stand Ricky P. What are your credentials, butthole?

    • RealCatsFan
      9:23 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

      Well, gee, I guess since I have only been a fan since the 70’s, I should turn in my fan card, right? No offense, but posts like you put up there just make us look like a bunch of spoiled babies. That’s why fans of other schools can’t stand many UK fans. But I’m sure that’s of no concern to you. If you don’t like the way things are going under Cal, that’s your prerogative. I don’t agree with everything he says and does, but right now, he’s the best man for the job, IMO. Who do you suggest we bring in to replace him?

    • CatsfaninFL
      7:38 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

      If you are the fan you say you are harlan, you’re either senile or irrational. Your analysis of who will get to 9 first is a laughing stock of an opinion grounded in said senility or irrationality. Someone with your “experience” as a fan should know that a) it’s ridiculously difficult to win a title in a one game series b) you can’t win it if you’re not at least getting to the Final 4 and c) there is only one team you listed that got their titles from multiple coaches over the span of 70 years. Your opinions are knee-jerk at best and idiotic at worst. Take a step back and breath. If anything, our program is the only program that has shown we will be a juggernaut year in and year out as long as college basketball is around. There will be some schools that surge and do well when they have a great coach, but none can come close to repeated success with any competent coach they put in charge.

    • symphonist41169
      8:27 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

      And Kareem was LEW Alcindor, not Lou.

    • Rixter
      10:20 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

      You’ve been a ‘live and die’ fan for 65 years, and you think Duke will get 4 championships before UK gets one? Maybe you are the one who should turn in your fan card, cuz you’re not much of a fan regardless of your longevity.

  10. bharlan24
    9:15 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    By the way I was at the final at Cowboy Stadium last year.. Where were you?

  11. AirForceOne
    9:18 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    What some people need to understand, is that for the model Calipari utilizes so successfully, needs to keep getting guys to the NBA. You have to keep feeding the machine. I’m happy for these kids, and at the same time I am excited for our next class of Blue Chip players. I for one am thrilled for all of them.

  12. bharlan24
    9:18 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    I was President of Eastern Little League when little Ricky and Saul played baseball there. My Son was on the same team with Saul. I could go on but I’m struggling with this rock that I’m under.

    • Rixter
      10:21 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

      Please continue impressing us with what you’ve done in your life. It’s fascinating.

  13. inside info2
    9:24 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    I am extremely excited for Ulis to be leading the team this year. He is the PURE point guard to be at UK since Rondo. He should’ve had more playing time this year. He will be unstoppable next year.

    Drew, can we please, PLEASE not start hyping the “whatever we want” phrase? That will not be good for UK. Coach Cal is usually a master at PR and marketing, but that was a blunder that could come back and bite him.

  14. RealCatsFan
    9:25 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    Gee bharlan, I guess that makes you the ultimate UK fan. Were you on these forums bellyaching when this team was winning? Or do you just come on here and yell “get off my lawn” when things aren’t going so well?

    • theWilkman
      9:48 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

      Exactly. He and his ilk were nowhere to be seen prior to April 4. True fans, huh.

  15. bharlan24
    9:27 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    I am thrilled for these guys also. This group was a great group of young Men. However, it bothers me how they acted after the loss.

    This was our best chance for number 9. We had great freshmen and terrific upper class men. What I believe it takes to challenge for titles. I’m just disappointed with how it ended.

    I don’t believe next years team can do that. Will they win a lot, yes. Do I hope I’m wrong, definitely .

    • RealCatsFan
      9:33 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

      bharlan, you said something we can finally agree on. I too was disappointed with the behavior of a few of our players after the loss. I’m sure they were crushed by it, but one sign of being a man is to have the dignity to face your opponent and congratulate him. If I was Cal I would have ripped those guys a new one, and told them that there is NO WAY they are ready for the NBA if they are going to sulk off like children after facing a loss. And I agree that this was probably the best chance for us to get #9 – hell, it was probably our only chance to run the table. But you never know – sometimes a team comes together and gets hot at just the right time. That’s what keeps us coming back as fans. Peace out, my fellow cats fan – didn’t intend to offend you.

  16. bharlan24
    9:33 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    I’m a real Wildcat fan with credentials. I have an opinion and until proven otherwise , I’m going to state it.
    It’s just an opinion my friend. You are like so many others I see on here, you just want to jump on somebody because that’s how you operate. I was stating an opinion, disagree if you want but challenging my veracity as a UK fan, you stepped over the line. Now show your cards or, are you going to spew more bs?

    • RealCatsFan
      9:37 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

      ^^ See my above reply. Not questioning your credentials as a fan. Just tired of all the negativity after the weekend we all had to endure. I’ve seen a lot of people coming on here who never posted before, and many of them are not UK fans, simply trolls.

      For the record, yes, I’m a lot younger than you, but no spring chicken either. I’ve been a fan since I was a kid – 1978 team was the one that set the hook for me. Haven’t had the pleasure of getting to a FF game, but yes, I go to games, and was at the SEC Tourney this year. Good times.

    • Gowcats
      10:35 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

      Brothers in the same family don’t always agree or play nice. We can all agree we are in the same family and have heated arguments though. Keep it interesting guys!

  17. ciggy
    9:33 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    Being happy for them is a given, being sad they are gone.. and wishing they would have stuck around. >.<

    It's gonna take awhile for the fanbase to be as happy as we were a month ago. Everyone said it was a once in a lifetime sort of season, and it was. It's just going to be real hard to go back to actually LOSING games. The way it ended this season, that pain is gonna be around awhile. Everyone is feeling that, and the sky is falling for a lot of folks. I can't hate on them, I feel much the same, even though I know it isn't the case. UK will be in the hunt like they most often are.

    • RealCatsFan
      9:44 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

      ciggy, I think the fact that Duke won over Wisconsin rubbed a lot of salt in everyone’s wounds, and that makes all of us (including me) a little crankier. I’ll be so glad when K retires, because I’m tired of watching the national media swinging from his nutsack.

  18. bharlan24
    9:37 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    Cal is the man for UK, no doubt about it. I was hoping he would get the job when Billy G got the job. Where were you then.

    Methinks you are the type that gives UK a bad name.

  19. bharlan24
    9:40 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    I don’t post a lot but I avidly follow whats going on with UK. I’ve been to SEC tourneys just about every where they’ve been held.

    • Rixter
      10:24 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

      Yeah, we know. You never miss a game, you’ve reiterated that over and over. And over. And then over again.

  20. bharlan24
    9:41 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    I’m through here. Go Big Blue.

    • RealCatsFan
      9:42 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

      ^^ Scroll up for my replies, but I guess you are through. ^^

  21. Actionhero
    9:41 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    Good post drew! I hope these guys do what’s best for them.

  22. bharlan24
    9:44 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    Ok Realcats fan peace brother . Go big Blue.

    • RealCatsFan
      9:46 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

      You too. Time to drag myself away from here and work on taxes. 🙁

  23. cats paw
    9:57 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    Already started with the 40-0 hype for next season I see! We got beat by a whole team of SLOW, UNATHLETIC white boys that you all made fun of in several articles this year…. We will always have a great team but never so elite as to say we know we will kill other top 5 teams!
    Now get back to hyping this Great football program so we can get Stoops another raise!

    • Gowcats
      10:41 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

      Cats paw equals a whole lot of negative! Bet you wake up and kick the dog before your first cup of coffee every day.

  24. 2000Wins
    10:07 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    I like the way we reload. Its fun. If Skal is that good, then our team could be better. Yes I said it, BETTER.

  25. plumloopy
    10:36 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

    How is Wisconsin going to be next year? I admit, I wouldn’t trade for having to wait every 3-4 years to content.

    I do wish it was more like the old days when if someone left early, that meant 2-3 years in, not one. And those would be the truly exceptional players, not the D Johnsons, who could really be a great senior in a couple years. What if Kaminsky left after last year? Probably would have been 2nd round, but stayed and played for a NC, got POY and is certainly going higher.

    • plumloopy
      11:23 pm April 8, 2015 Permalink

      “every 3-4 years to comPETE.”

  26. Bill Brasky
    2:08 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

    Drew: Alex will actually be a senior, not a junior.

    Not going to get into the massive debate between the few people posting in this thread, other than to say: In Cal We Trust. We’ll be fine.

    • Rixter
      10:28 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

      Alex is eligible for a medical redshirt for this past year, if he takes advantage of it, this will be his Junior year coming up.

  27. EdC
    9:20 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

    I totally believe we will be fine by the end of the year. Great for the kids, great for the fans. As we have seen, the best talent very often loses in the tournament so we’ll see. Cal will eventually get at least #9 before he leaves.

    One thing … can we as fans and bloggers to fans MAYBE be a little more humble? I don’t really see how cocky fans and constant statements like “we can do what we want” help the program in any way. It does the opposite. Of course everybody else hates Kentucky. How could you like a fan base in any sport that makes statements like that? I am all for cheering for Kentucky but it could be done while showing a little more respect to everybody else. I hate Duke but the fact of the matter is that since seeding has been in place in the tournament Duke has more championships than UK and UConn has just as many. I hate Duke because their fans are insufferably obnoxious. I live near Connecticut and don’t mind UConn because their fans just are not obnoxious pricks even though they are on a better title run than UK over the last few years.

  28. Rixter
    10:13 am April 9, 2015 Permalink

    If Kentucky basketball makes you miserable, I would suggest you find a new hobby. At least find a different team to follow. It just makes good health sense. UK is one of about 320 division one teams, and the ONLY one that regularly has a mass exodus. Pick another school.

  29. CatSmitty
    5:03 pm April 9, 2015 Permalink

    Been a fan since Cotton Nash days and have never, even remotely, seen such poor sportsmanship as witnessed against Wisconsin. For those players, good-bye and good luck. For the rest, thanks for the memories that I will cherish to the grave. However it is my opinion that 4-5 will end up in development league. Wish they would have chosen to develop here. Next year in Houston!!!