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Jeff Eisenberg

John Calipari: No Kentucky players are draft-ready right now

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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John Calipari has always encouraged underclassmen to enter the NBA draft if they're evaluated as potential first rounders, so his advice for his talented freshmen class during Friday's news conference was a bit eye-opening.

Asked whether he'd encourage any of his players to enter the NBA draft if the season ended today, the Kentucky coach said, "If it were today, probably not, but we're still a month away."

Calipari did not expand on the comment and no follow-up questions were asked, yet it was easily the most intriguing statement of the news conference.

Whereas other coaches often try to keep elite players for as long as possible, Calipari practically pushed his five draftees out the door last year because he knew building a reputation for producing NBA talent would help lure other players of that caliber. He later referred to last year's draft day as "the biggest day in the history of Kentucky's program" and a "two-hour infomercial" for the school.

Why would Calipari advise his players to stay in school this year when freshman forward Terrence Jones is a potential lottery pick and Brandon Knight could also be a first-round selection?

Perhaps he truly believes neither one is ready for the NBA. More likely, however, it's a ploy to motivate his team down the stretch.

Kentucky is 1-6 on the road in the SEC this year and faces Florida, Vanderbilt and Tennessee to close out the regular season. Furthermore, Calipari has complained about the Wildcats' lack of competitiveness for weeks.

If ever there were a time Calipari needs his players to be 100 percent motivated, now is it.

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