Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Mass Exodus

"Don't forget to hug me before you leave DeMarcus!"

Sunday is Easter for the Christians and Passover has been going on for those of the Jewish community. Monster Mash already did a Passover themed story so I decided to continue the theme today with the news that it is likely that Kentucky's basketball team will lose 9 players this off season.

Ramon Harris, Perry Stevenson and Mark Krebs are all seniors and have used their four years of eligibility. Patrick Patterson will graduate in three years, so he will have one year of eligibility. Daniel Orton, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe were only freshmen. All of these players are now gone or are likely gone. There is another rumor floating around that Jon Hood is going to transfer. That's 9 players possibly not returning.

The news that Orton is leaving shocks me. I really thought that the big man would stay one more year, refine his offensive game and become a top 15 draft pick next year in the NBA. Right now he is projected as the #29 pick overall. He has huge size and limitless potential but has struggled on the offensive end of things at times this season. He is a player that could get lost in the NBA shuffle and become a journeyman in the pros and abroad as well. I know my advice means absolute squadoosh to the kid but I would think one more year would do wonders for him.

As for Patterson and the other one and dones, I think they are all NBA ready as of right now. Wall is the likely the #1 overall pick but Evan Turner could steal that spot depending on the needs of the team that wins the lottery. Boogie is projected to go top 5, Bledsoe top 10 and Patterson top 15. I think Bledsoe could have stayed one more year and he could have been the overall #1 next year.

The bottom line is that I can't blame any of these guys for going and I wish them nothing but the best. Patterson decided to forgo the draft last year to come back and compete for a championship. Compete he did but he came up just a little short. He upped his draft number by returning but now it's time for one of UK's all time greats to go to the next level.

So, who do the Cats have returning? Darnell Dodson, Josh Harrelson, Darrius Miller and DeAndre Liggins will be the upper classmen next year. It's a good core of players that will have a year under Calipari's system under their belts and they will be better equipped to show the newcomers the ropes. Liggins and Miller are the most athletic and most experienced of the bunch. Dodson needs to work on defense and he needs to become the deadly 3 point shooter that he was brought to Kentucky to be. Jorts is Jorts. He comes in, gets some rebounds and hits the occasional 3. That's my boy Big Britain!

As for the new comers, the only two we know for sure is Stacey Poole and Enes Kanter (just cleared to be eligible). Calipari is looking to fill 5-6 more spots. 2 of them already seem to be a lock with C.J. Leslie and Brandon Knight. Leslie has pretty much guaranteed his spot with UK and Knight had a bit of a slip of the tongue the other day, leading us all to believe that Mr. #1 recruit will be donning the blue and white next season. Doron Lamb still has UK in the mix and Josh Selby eluded to the potential of him and Brandon Knight sharing the point guard spot a la Bledsoe/Wall. Luke Cothron also just narrowed his choices down to a five schools, UK being one of them, Louisville not so much. Plus, with an NBA lockout looming, these guys could be around longer than the one year required of them.

This is all speculation as of now but it seems likely. If the recruits are being told that 5 freshmen will be leaving then I would think that this is so. When it is confirmed that they are gone, I will have a beautiful farewell to give to one of my favorite Kentucky teams of all time.

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