Kentucky star James Young will enter the 2014 NBA draft.
The freshman guard announced his decision on Thursday, per Kentucky Athletics:
Young: “My time at UK has been special to me, something I’ll always treasure, but I feel that I’m ready to take the next step to the NBA."— Kentucky Athletics (@UKAthletics) April 17, 2014
Wildcats head coach John Calipari said, per the team's press release:
I’m excited for James and his family and the decision he’s come to. From day one, the NBA people who came to our practices in the preseason raved about him. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him all season, investing himself in his brothers for the betterment of the team, and I think we all saw the end result in the tournament and Final Four. Whatever team drafts James is not only getting a superb athlete, they are getting the ultimate teammate.
This news comes as no big surprise. Kentucky has become a revolving door for college stars harboring pro prospects. In fact, 11 players have now left Lexington after their freshman seasons under Calipari, per Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal:
Not counting Enes Kanter, James Young is the 11th one-and-done (or Succeed-and-Proceed) under Calipari at Kentucky.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) April 17, 2014
Young is the first, though, to declare among UK's cadre of young stars from the 2013-14 national runner-up team.
He is viewed as a lock for the first round, and could slip into the lottery between now and June 26, so it's easy to see why he felt now was the right time to make the jump to the pros. He was second on the team in points per game (14.3) and averaged 4.3 boards per contest as well.
That was good enough to be named to both the Second Team All-SEC and SEC All-Freshman Team.
One of his biggest problems, though, was his shooting. As a wing player, Young will have to hit more than 40.7 of his field goals if he wants to succeed in the NBA. He's 6'6" and 215 pounds, so he still has room to grow too.
There's no question that he has the athleticism, as evidenced by his huge dunk against UConn in the national championship:
Young shouldn't have to wait long to hear his name on draft night. He has both the potential and college production to warrant an early selection, and teams will fall in love with his raw physical abilities.
There is, of course, some risk attached to drafting him, though. But if Young can sort out his shooting, the sky's the limit for him in the NBA.