Freshmen Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague, and sophomores Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb, said at a news conference that they will skip their remaining college eligibility to pursue professional careers.
The five players, each projected to be taken in the draft’s opening round, comprised Kentucky’s starting lineup on April 2, when the Wildcats beat the University of Kansas in the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament final. A dozen underclassmen now have left coach John Calipari’s program for the NBA draft in the past three seasons.
“This is a players-first program,” Calipari, 53, said last night at the news conference. “During the season, it’s about our team. When it’s over, it’s about moments like this. They came to me and said we want to do this together.”
Should all five underclassmen and senior Darius Miller be selected, it would be the first time that six college teammates were taken in the same NBA draft.
A player must be at least 19 years old during the draft’s calendar year and 12 months removed from his graduating high school class to be eligible for the NBA Draft.
‘Won and Done’
The rules were first applied in 2006 and have led to a label of “One and Done” for college players leaving early. After the Wildcats beat Kansas 67-59, headlines changed that phrase to “Won and Done.”
Davis, 19, was the Associated Press Player of the Year, averaging a team-high 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.7 blocks this season. He was also the Southeastern Conference’s Player, Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year.
Lamb, 20, was second on the team in scoring, at 13.7 points per game, including a game-high 22 in the Wildcats’ championship victory against the Jayhawks. Kidd-Gilchrist and Jones each averaged more than 11 points and seven rebounds per game. Teague, who along with Davis started all 40 games, had a team- high 191 assists.
ESPN analyst Chad Ford predicts Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist will be the first and second overall picks in the draft, which takes place June 28 in Newark, New Jersey. His mock draft has Jones as the No. 12 pick, Teague No. 25 and Lamb No. 30.
Noel Picks Wildcats
Nerlens Noel, considered the nation’s No. 1 recruit by ESPN.com and Scout.com, last week announced his intention to play for Calipari next season. A 6-foot-10 player from Everett, Massachusetts, Noel chose the Wildcats over offers from Syracuse University and Georgetown University.
It is the fourth consecutive year that Kentucky has landed Rivals.com’s top-rated recruiting class, which has given the Lexington-based school a reputation for attracting top talent that only stays in college for the one required season. Kentucky has had five freshmen selected in the past two drafts, including Washington Wizards guard John Wall, the No. 1 pick in 2010; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, and Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Knight.
In that same span, Kentucky has had two juniors selected -- DeAndre Liggins and Patrick Patterson -- as well as Enes Kanter, who left the school after one year in which he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA because of financial benefits he received while playing in his native Turkey.
To contact the reporter on this story: Eben Novy-Williams in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at email@example.com