John Wall and Company Jump the Kentucky-Calipari Ship for the NBA
Really, Wednesday's announcement didn't come as a shock to Kentucky Wildcat or college basketball fans.
John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton, and Patrick Patterson are leaving John Calipari and the blue-grass state for the millions of dollars that await them in the NBA.
Wall, Cousins, Orton and Bledsoe—all freshmen—serve as classic examples of "one-and-done" players; physically gifted young men that have to spend at least one year playing college ball.
Even a Wildcat national championship couldn't have kept the five-some in Lexington.
After all, that was the goal—to recruit them to contend for a national championship for a few years, right?
The Wildcats' 73-66 loss to Bob Huggins' West Virginia Mountaineers could have been the catalyst for the group to enter the draft. Why stick around for another year? All five made a valiant effort, but didn't succeed.
Time to move on.
But who made the smart move, and who should reconsider?
Orton, a 6'10," 255-pound center, undoubtedly has the body type for the big leagues. His stats didn't necessarily reflect his true talent (just over 13 minutes per game and three points), but his size is undeniable.
Wall was projected as the No. 1 overall pick in June 24's NBA Draft before he even had a chance to put his Kentucky jersey and shorts on. Even superstar Lebron James forecasted his departure and proclaimed him the unanimous first selection.
Again, no surprise there. Wall knew he was going when he was asked at the McDonald's All-American game; he was just intelligently tight-lipped about his status.
At 6'4" with lightning-like quicks and limitless potential, there should be no debate in the Lottery winners' front office on who the team should spend it's coveted pick on—it's Wall.
Cousins' domination on the boards had the college basketball world in awe. How could the Wildcats not win a title with the likes of Cousins and Wall at the helm?
The 'Cats were one of the early favorites to get the job done in Indianapolis.
The Kentucky freshman's size, physicality and court-demeanor are enough to guarantee the 6'11" 270-pound Cousins a Lottery Pick future.
Mobile's finest averaged nearly a double-double per game in 2009-10, and is capable of playing 25-plus minutes of hard-nosed basketball.
Bledsoe is another story. He doesn't have the staggering, prototype size for his position. The Birmingham, AL. native is capable of playing both the No. 1 and 2-guard slot, but he's only 6'1".
He's listed at a generous 6'1", that is.
One thing that has NBA scouts salivating over is his ability to shoot the long-ball. Bledsoe converted on nearly 40 percent of his three-pointers last season and averaged slightly above 11 points per game. One factor that is in his favor in the eyes of the experts is his durability.
One facet of his game that doesn't help his draft stock are his turnovers. Bledsoe, like Wall, had the tendency to do too much with the dribble and cough up the ball on key possessions
A little fine-tweaking, and he could earn an early starting role on a team desperate for offense.
Patterson, Calipari's junior-phenom, made the right choice.
Unfortunately seniors haven't fared well come June over the last decade—he probably knew that. With the core of his team jumping ship; why stay in school?
Depending on where the chips fall, the 6'9" mega-talented forward could be an early to mid first-round prize.
There are no durability issues with Patterson. He played 30-plus minutes a game for three years as a Wildcat.
He pulled down just above eight per contest in his college career.
He can score, too.
Patterson battled his way to the rack throughout his junior season—he averaged 14 points per game. Realistically, he was NBA-ready last year.
His coach is a great salesman. Calipari likely sold the prospect on the idea of winning a national title, and had Patterson looking forward to cutting the nets down with Wall, Orton and Bledsoe.
As far as scenarios are concerned, the aforementioned was quite possible.
Calipari will manage to stay afloat in Lexington. As a "springboard" program, the Wildcats will continue to land the top-talent in the country that are ready for the league.
They just have to make a quick detour through the blue-grass state for a year in order to get there.
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