Fans of Kentucky basketball now know the rumors were true: This year’s National Championship team will soon be missing five underclassmen.
On Tuesday, in a press conference at the Joe Craft Center men’s basketball practice gym, Marquis Teague, Terrence Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Anthony Davis and Doron Lamb all announced their early departure from college for the NBA draft.
Davis, winner of national freshman of the year, defensive player of the year and the Naismith Award, is projected as the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Fellow teammate and freshman, Kidd-Gilchrist is expected to go second.
While the fabulous five await their fate in Newark, N.J. on June 28, Coach John Calipari will be busy rebuilding his team down in Lexington. With his five NBA prospects gone, along with senior Darius Miller, Calipari must replace 93.3 percent of the scoring and 94 percent of the rebounding from this season’s championship team.
But, that shouldn’t be too much concern for any fan bleeding blue. After all, Kentucky was just fine after John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins made the leap to the NBA. And, next season UK is again slated for another standout freshman class with Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley. Add NC State transfer Ryan Harrow and No.1 ESPNU 100 recruit Nerlens Noel to the mix, and Kentucky may just claim a ninth title by 2013.
Before the Cats get too comfortable, though, Indiana and Louisville will be clawing at their feet. Ranked No. 1 and 2 respectively in a very early preseason poll by ESPN, Indiana and Louisville will return with much of the same talent, plus a few key freshmen and college transfers.
It’s sure to be one huge battle in the Bluegrass this coming basketball season. But whether the Cards, Cats or Hoosiers come out on top, there’s no doubt Kentuckiana will again claim its stake as a hot bed for college basketball.