Just one day after freshman Doron Lamb made it known he would return to Kentucky for his Sophomore season. Two fellow freshman Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight, as well as junior DeAndre Liggins made the announcement they would be putting their names in the upcoming NBA draft.
Kentucky fans do see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel for possible returns from one if not all three of their starters from last season. None of the three players have hired an agent at this point so they still have until May 8th to withdraw their names and return to Kentucky. Wildcat fans though are not holding their breath and rightfully so on that happening.
Knight led the Wildcats in scoring (17.3) and assists (4.2) this season, while breaking John Walls one year record of points in a season by a freshman at Kentucky with 657 points.
Knight released the following statement about his decision
“Playing in the NBA has always been a dream of mine, and (declaring) is the next step,” Knight said in a release. “All season long Coach has been tutoring me on the fine points of being a point guard, and now I have an opportunity to put my game on display in front of NBA scouts as a result of my hard work.”
Most draft experts and websites have Knight going anywhere between 5 and 10, including ESPN’s Chad Ford and Drat Express.
Jones was thought at the beginning of the year as an easy choise to go after one season but as the year moved on it seemed more likely he was not as ready as people originally thought. He would finish the season 15.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game as well as earning the SEC Freshman of the Year Award but his game seemed to deplete as the year went on. Still he is thought to be a lottery selection (top 14), while Ford has him going at 11 overall and Draft Express 10th.
“Coach Cal and the rest of the staff pushed us all year-long and helped us develop every part of our game to help prepare us for this point in our lives,” Jones said in a release. “This will be a great chance for me to measure my skills against some of the best in the country and receive additional information on where I fit into this year’s draft.”
DeAndre Liggins is a whole other scenario. Liggins proved over the year as one of the best on ball defenders in the country. He would average 8.6 points a game and was named to the Lefty Driesell Defensive All-America Team. Calipari even compared him to current Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen, who is known in the league for his stellar defensive play.
“Everybody is looking at DeAndre Liggins, that he could guard multiple positions,” Calipari told Sporting News. “He’s athletic, tough, comes up with balls — all the stuff they want in that position. He’s getting a serious look now. I wasn’t positive about it before, but I feel pretty good.”
Neither Ford or Draft Express have Liggins going in their two rounds but that doesn’t seem to stop the 6’6 guard from Chicago, Illinois from believing he will get drafted.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to enter my name into the draft, putting me one step closer to realizing my dream,” Liggins said in a release.
Barring a surprise return by one of the three, Calipari will now have had eight players (six freshman) all leave UK early in just his two seasons in Lexington.
“I support the decision these three have made to take advantage of the process of putting their names in the draft,” Calipari said. “They were a joy to coach this year, and I would love the opportunity to continue to coach them again next season.”