Fan: Can Kentucky basketball reload year after year and be successful?

The Tubby Smith and Billy Gillespie teams were made up of decent players who were fun to root for but didn't have NBA talent. Sure, Kentucky produced some NBA players but none of them were one-and-done types. From 2000 - 2009, Kentucky has had only three of its players drafted in the first round. Can you name them? The answer is at the bottom. In 2010, Kentucky had an NBA draft-day record five players taken in the first round. This is quite a change from what we are used to.

Last year, we knew all along that John Wall(notes), DeMarcus Cousins(notes), and Patrick Paterson were going to leave and would go in the first round. Later in the year, we started to realize that Eric Bledsoe(notes) would follow suit. Most of us were floored when Daniel Orton(notes) declared for the draft and were even more surprised when the Orlando Magic drafted him with the 29th pick. Orton has knee problems, very little experience, and is out of shape. He averaged only three points and three rebounds in his only year at Kentucky. Despite all of that, Orton will make $1 million dollars in each of the next two years. If he can stick, he will make another $6 million dollars.

This year isn't much different. We are all pretty sure that Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight, and Enes Kanter (he is on the roster after all) will be first round picks. Josh Harrellson could get drafted in the first round as well. What about Doron Lamb?

Lamb is a 6'4" shooting guard. He doesn't shoot any better than the shooting guards NBA teams already have and most of them are taller. He could end up being as good as Jodie Meeks(notes) who didn't get drafted until late in the second round. Meeks left after his junior season and is making great money but he may have been wise to stay for his senior year to set himself apart. Lamb would be smart to stick around also but most Kentucky fans would have said the same thing about Orton. The difference is that Orton is 6'11" and has potential to be an impact player who can swat shots, rebound, and score down low (even though we haven't seen it much yet) while Lamb is one of many 6'4" shooting guards.

This brings us back to the fact that Kentucky may be losing another four players out of the six that get significant minutes. The other two are Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins who will likely stay. Next year, Coach Calipari will have another team with little depth that relies mostly on freshman. We prefer that to the way it was before when we had to make ourselves believe that mediocre players were Kentucky Wildcat caliber.

UK fans want a championship, though. Last year, they had a great shot at it but West Virginia team made them look like the inexperienced them that they were. As long as Coach Cal has them in position to get a title shot, that is all we can ask. Kentucky fans like me know it is tough to win six tournament games with a veteran team and even tougher with three freshmen. In the NCAA tournament, a team can lose their poise for a half and it could be over. Sound familiar?

Oh yeah, the three first round picks out of Kentucky from 2000 - 2009 are Jamaal Magloire(notes), Tayshaun Prince(notes), and Rajon Rondo(notes).

For a rating of each player on the roster, click here.

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Updated Thursday, Jan 27, 2011