The upcoming college basketball season will be nothing like its predecessor. Just look at the Kentucky Wildcats: There will be five new faces in Lexington next year. But the 2012-13 Wildcats have something in common with the 2012 national champions.
Everyone has a chance to go pro.
Well, almost everyone.
Every player that plays significant minutes could play professional basketball next year. I'm talking Nerlens Noel, Alex Poythress, Archie Goodwin, Ryan Harrow, Willie Cauley-Stein and Kyle Wiltjer.
Those are six players that will see major minutes under head coach John Calipari. Julius Mays will play as well, but this is his last year of eligibility anyway. The aforementioned six are all capable of playing at the next level right now.
How the season plays out will likely determine who stays and who leaves.
Take, for example, 2010-11 point guard Brandon Knight. Most thought he would stay for at least two years because he was stellar in the classroom and had facets of his game that could use some tuning up before NBA play.
But after a striking run through the 2011 NCAA tournament to the Final Four, Knight's draft stock was through the roof.
He was drafted eighth in the 2011 NBA draft.
Marquis Teague's story is similar, but different. Teague didn't have the smoothest transition to the college game than those point guards before him. He was regarded as the "weakest link" on a national championship team.
But he won a national championship.
Teague could have stayed and developed a better jumper. But he had just won 38 games, including a national championship. He went out on top and was drafted 29th in the 2012 NBA draft.
The same thing could happen on the 2012-13 squad.
Noel, Poythress and Goodwin seem like near-locks. They are the three players with NBA-ready size and athleticism, although none have a "polished" game—yet. All three seem to have loved their college experience thus far.
Harrow is the presumed next in line to leave. At a very generous 6'2", 170 pounds, Harrow does not have the size to grind out an 82-game season in the NBA. But he shows flashes of a Brandon Jennings-like game.
That's an apt high-end comparison for Harrow, but he first needs to prove it on the court.
From there, things get murky. WCS is the tallest player on the team, but he might be the most raw. He'd have a tough go in the NBA if he were to leave early.
Wiltjer could leave after this year, but college basketball suits his game more than professional ball. A high-end comparison for him would be Ryan Anderson, who left California after two seasons. Anderson, however, had a very productive freshman campaign and was much better on the glass.
What if this team makes the 2013 Final Four? Would they all bolt? Would some follow in Terrence Jones' and Doron Lamb's footsteps and stay for another year to make it even further?
On a more pessimistic note, what if this team fails to meet expectations?
What if a fourth-straight Sweet 16 bid is too much to ask?
There would be some unfinished business, that's for sure. But when the NBA comes calling, most players listen.
It's a fair assumption to say that some will stay, if not most. All options are viable at this very early stage of the year.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!