In a development with big implications for college basketball next season but zero shock value, the top five underclassmen from Kentucky’s national-title-winning team – freshmen Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague, and sophomores Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb – are all headed to the NBA. Davis will likely be the top pick in the draft, while Kidd-Gilchrist will be one of the first players selected as well. All five stand an excellent chance to go in the first round.
And that’s why this isn’t a shock. When you’ve got a chance to be a first-round pick, more often than not you go pro. If anything, the real surprise was last year, when Jones and Lamb decided to stick around. Worked out for them, but clearly this year’s star freshmen felt differently. And it’s hard to blame them – especially Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist (apparently the last of the players to make up his mind), whose stock can’t go much higher than it already is.
As for what it means going forward, obviously Kentucky would have been better off if some of these players stayed, but it’ll be good regardless. Kyle Wiltjer, the one five-star recruit from last year who’ll be back, should take on an expanded role, North Carolina State transfer Ryan Harrow will run the point – and oh yeah, one of the nation’s top recruiting classes, probably the best, is headed to Lexington again.
Kentucky most likely won’t be the dominant force it was this season, but it’ll be a factor nationally. Given what it lost tonight, that’s pretty amazing, and credit – as reluctant as you might be to give it to him – to John Calipari and the talent he’s able to attract year after year. You can never count Calipari out. Well, unless he goes to the Knicks, but he says he won’t. All that’s left to do is see.