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Lockout Looms: Bledsoe Will Be Fourth Cat To Go Pro

LEXINGTON, KY - FEBRUARY 13:  Eric Bledsoe #24 of the Kentucky Wilcats dribbles the ball during the SEC game against the Tennessee Volunteers on February 13, 2010 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Derek PooreContributor IFebruary 26, 2010

There's no doubt about it.

Kentucky Wildcats freshman guard Eric Bledsoe will be in this summer's NBA Draft.

Along with a big chunk of college basketball players that in other years might hesitate before making the leap to the pros.

With the lockout looming -- and all signs point to a disastrous year for the NBA after next season -- players that might normally test the waters will be more apt to jump to the draft after this season.

The NBA is a mess right now financially. It's in deep. (How deep? Check out Bill Simmons' column for the best diagnosis of the NBA's problems I've read yet.)

Players like Bledsoe, who are projected to be mid- to late-first rounders, will likely make the jump because if they don't, the NBA won't be there for at least one season starting in 2012.

Bledsoe has not put up stellar numbers for Kentucky -- he's averaging 10.6 points, 3.2 assists and 3 boards -- but he is is overshadowed by fabulous freshmen John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. He's a better three-point shooter than Wall (36 percent to Wall's 33), and can run the point if he Wall is in foul trouble or needs a break.

Look for Bledsoe, as well as other fence-sitters like Texas' Avery Bradley, Virginia Commonwealth's Larry Sanders, Baylor's Ekpe Udoh and Oklahoma State's James Anderson to declare for the draft.

After that, it's up to the NBA and the Players Union to decide whether fans deserve a season in 2012. But Bledsoe and his counterparts will likely have NBA contracts and a secure near-future.

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