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Kentucky basketball fan take: Who on the roster should go to the NBA?
The Kentucky Wildcats season has ended in defeat. A Final Four run seemed unlikely at first but when they beat Ohio State, it was clear that a title was within reach. They should have also beaten Connecticut in the Final Four and destroyed Butler in the title game, but it was not to be.
Now that it is over, we turn to the NBA draft. Who should stay at Kentucky and who should take their chances in the real world of professional basketball? Coach Cal is known to give his players open, candid advice about what they should do. What advice will he give to the five players that have a big decision to make? They all have work to do on their game but that isn't what the draft is all about anyway. NBA teams draft players on potential.
Here are the five players that have to make the decision and what they should do.
This is the easiest decision of all. Miller could still end up with a Kelenna Azubuike-like career but he will have to go the same route. Azubuike wasn't drafted but worked hard in the developmental league before making it.
The Wildcat fans love Liggins. His improvement on the court was a big reason that they made it to the Final Four. Liggins worked his butt off on defense which won't go unnoticed by NBA scouts. He also received ample playing time this season. If Liggins stays, he may not get as much playing time next season when the new crop of recruits arrive. Less playing time means less chance to improve and less chance to impress. Liggins' stock is as high as it can get. He also has a baby to consider so even if he doesn't get drafted, he can go to Europe to make some coin.
Lamb has already stated that he will be back. He can hit from behind the arc like few others but has trouble creating his own shot. Shooting guards aren't usually drafted high either. If he can have a season like Jodie Meeks(notes) put up in his junior season, he may be a first round pick next year but his time isn't now.
Jones has plenty of work to do. His awkward outside shot, free throw shooting, post moves, and footwork all need work. However, Jones is loaded with potential. He demonstrated that he can rebound, block shots, and score. In the NBA, he will be a power forward. He should be the top one or two power forwards in the draft. He is projected to go in the top 10 on most mock drafts. He won't be able to get much higher than that if he waits.
Knight's stock is high now but he can't escape the fact that he might be the third or fourth best point guard in the draft behind Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, and maybe Josh Selby. He can do better than that in a year. He has plenty to work on in that time. He needs to beef up a bit and hit the weight room. Physical defenders seem to give him trouble. Knight is also a stellar student so another year will put him closer to graduation anyway. Leaving early wouldn't be the worst idea ever, though. He would get drafted between 10 and 15 and make a lot of money if he goes this year. However, in one year, he will be a top five pick.
Of course, this all assumes that there will be a 2011-12 season and the draft goes as planned. The players have until April 24th or 25th to declare and until May 8th to withdraw if they don't hire an agent.
Good luck with your decision, guys.
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