Kentucky Basketball: 5 Wildcats Who Will Be NBA Studs

Matt OveringContributor IIIMarch 6, 2012

Kentucky Basketball: 5 Wildcats Who Will Be NBA Studs

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    It is a foregone conclusion that the University of Kentucky is one of the best colleges in the nation at producing NBA talent. Kentucky has a team full of NBA-ready players, and more are on the way. 

    Current and future Wildcats are looking for John Calipari to coach them to college success as well as improve their future prospects. He's one of the best at signing high-profile players and maturing their game for the next level.

    Like him or not, Calipari is an excellent recruiter and does what many coaches don't: He encourages players to go pro if that is what he feels is best for them. He knows it is the player, and his family, that should make the decision about heading for the NBA.

    Former Wildcats like John Wall and Brandon Knight are players from Kentucky that took their talents to the next level and have done well. These "studs" aren't quite superstars in the NBA, but they have that potential.

    Here are five Wildcats like Wall and Knight that will be studs in the NBA.

Anthony Davis

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    I'm going out on a limb here. Anthony Davis will be a stud in the NBA.

    Against Florida on March 4, Davis showcased his all-around game. He made left-handed jump-hooks. He made a three. He finished with authority. He blocked six shots. He made free throws.

    Sure, he may be slim for a 6'11" basketball player. However, there are only two genuine knocks someone can make about Davis' game: his inability to finish through contact and his struggle to defend bigger players.

    Picky, right? Davis still drops 15-plus points almost every game. He doesn't need the ball to be effective, either. Most of his points are from alley-oops or put-back slams, something that is rarely "drawn up."

    On defense, Davis can still block bigger centers. His ability to not foul will go a long way in the NBA in playing larger, less-athletic professionals, and he'll still be able to alter their shots with his incredible length. 

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

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    This isn't exactly a good picture of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but this is what he does. He scraps for loose balls, fights for offensive rebounds and plays tremendous defense. 

    He's a leader on and off the court and any NBA team would benefit from the day it drafts him. Kidd-Gilchrist brings a winning, hard-working attitude to the Kentucky Wildcats, exactly what every NBA team needs.

    Just like Anthony Davis before him, MKG doesn't need offensive plays drawn up for him to score points. His 12.0 points per game are from fast-break layups or tough shots inside. Unlike Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist can finish through contact with relative ease.

    Kidd-Gilchrist struggles shooting from the outside (28.6 percent from deep) and occasionally plays with too much urgency. Poor shot selection and offensive fouls have held him back from time to time.

    Here's to hoping MKG can convince coach John Calipari to stay and improve these doubts in his game.

Marquis Teague

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    If the first two players on this list are guarantees, this one is not. Doron Lamb, Terrence Jones and Marquis Teague all could be great NBA studs. Out of those three, I think Teague has the best chance.

    Teague has the size to body-up point guards and force them to work to get the ball up the floor. His defense has been steady throughout the year, something we can't say about his offense.

    Where Teague struggles is in his decision making and his poor outside shooting. He fouls a bit too much for a guard and doesn't always make the right play. That being said, Teague has the most upside out of the three. If he can improve the choices he makes in-game, he'll be a great NBA player.

    However, Teague has the pedigree (his brother, Jeff Teague, plays for the Atlanta Hawks) and the skill set. His quickness is incredible and he can get to the rim as good as anyone for Kentucky. He may struggle finishing, but he has improved his free throw percentage and his jumper has shown signs of life.

    Lamb still hasn't added enough weight to make me think he'll be a good defender at the next level. He has next-level shooting capability, but that's about it. He disappears in games when he's not making shots.

    As for Jones, I fear his size may be his demise. He's excellent as a power forward in college, but in the pros, he'll be undersized. He doesn't have the quickness of most small forwards, leaving him in that awkward 3.5 range. 

    All three of these players have the potential to be "studs" in the NBA. Teague's potential gives him the slight edge for the future.

Alex Poythress

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    Alex Poythress headlines John Calipari's current 2012 class alongside Archie Goodwin and Willie Cauley. 

    Poythress has the dynamic, game-changing ability that is coveted at the collegiate and professional levels. He's like Terrence Jones in that he can defend multiple positions with his length, and he's got the quickness of a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

    He can still improve his jumper and decision making on offense, but from what I've seen, Poythress is an amazing athlete that will continue to improve.

Someone Else from the 2012 Class

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    The 2012 class is still rounding into form, and Kentucky is still in the running for surefire NBA prospects like Nerlens Noel (pictured), Shabazz Muhammad and Anthony Bennett. 

    Archie Goodwin and Willie Cauley, Class of 2012 signees, could also be future NBA studs.

    Multiple factors will determine whether or not Noel, Muhammad and/or Bennett come to the University of Kentucky. The same factors will shape the 2012-13 season for the Wildcats and will determine the legacy of future 'Cats.

    These factors include who commits when (if Noel commits, Cauley will see fewer minutes), who goes pro after this season (if Michael Kidd-Gilchrist stays, guys like Muhammad and Alex Poythress will see fewer minutes). 

    Nevertheless, these players will improve under John Calipari, regardless of minutes played. 


    Kentucky fans will have no shortage in NBA-level talent coming through the program. Now is a great time to be a member of the Big Blue Nation.