[Moderated by Matt Jones]
If the mass exodus to the NBA happens as largely expected, Kentucky will officially surpass Duke as the leading pro factory. Kentucky started the year with 15 professionals on NBA rosters, but after Keith Bogans signing and the recent Kelenna Azubuike promotion from the D-League, we now have a 2 man lead on the Bruins of UCLA. With possibly 6 additions to the NBA next year, that puts Kentucky at an unprecedented 23 former players in the NBA. Not to mention 2 out of the last 3 number one picks and five top-five picks in three years is a very legitimate possibility (Wall, Cousins, Kanter, Davis, MKG).
23 players. The NBA Cats could make up two whole teams. Maybe there should be a new Second Coming commercial with all the NBA Cats lined up in the white jumpsuits, as the one with Jermaine O’Neal, Rasheed Wallace, and Shawn Marion is a little outdated now. Anyways, what is interesting to see is the diversity of the players. While Calipari has of course been notorious for developing elite point guards, we are not restricted to one position, like Penn State and its affiliation with the title of “Linebacker U.” Rondo is playing like a madman and leading the rejuvenated Celtics, Wall will be immediately be one of the best point guards in the league if he can develop a consistent jumper, and then DeMarcus Cousins is putting up Kevin Love numbers and Davis is soon to join him as an great frontcourt player (I never thought that would be used as a compliment….kudos to Love for transforming himself from the fat, white “I cannot believe this guy is good at basketball” guy to the haggard-looking double-double machine mountain man he has become). The talent UK has put into the pros is diversified and deep, and is really a compliment to the prestige of the program.
The quality and quantity of players Kentucky and Calipari have put in the pros is unparalleled. This championship was so special because we won it with Calipari’s emphasis as a player’s first program. While that may not seem like a significant statement, remember Roy Williams’ actions earlier this year. In a blowout loss at Florida State, the raucous crowd prepared their storming of the court, and Williams pulled all his starters and had them head down the tunnel, leaving his bench players on the court to deal with rowdy Seminole fans. College coaches have notoriously wanted to win at all costs, but Calipari literally forced Cousins not to return as he knew it was best for him and his family. I do not know if there is another coach that would have done that for a player. Crirics of Calipari will always point to the punishmentsagainst UMass and Memphis, but regardless of what happened there and here, I will always applaud him for changing the lives of many young men and creating opportunities for them they may not have otherwise have had.
-Rondo dropped another triple-double last night. Bet the Celtics are glad they did not trade him for a certain 7 foot, odorous Spaniard…
-I am not a fan of recruiting gimmicks, but I have to admit, Nerlens Noel’s gimmick last night was pretty awesome. I thought Brandon Jennings’ flat top was beyond cool when he was in high school, but Nerlens’ flat top with the UK logo was Miles Davis level of cool….
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