Andrew Harrison

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It’s official: Kentucky will lose seven players to the NBA Draft

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As expected, Kentucky will be losing seven players to the NBA Draft.

At a press conference on Thursday afternoon, head coach John Calipari and seven of his underclassmen announced their decision. When Cal asked the players declaring for the draft to stand up, this happened:

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Screengrab via ESPN

 

Karl Anthony-Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles, Devon Booker, Dakari Johnson and both Aaron and Andrew Harrison will all be heading to the NBA.

“If Alex [Poythress] didn’t get hurt, it would have been eight,” Coach Cal said. Poythress has not yet made a decision. He’s got his degree already, according to Cal, and he’s still deciding whether or not he will return.

READ MORE: All early entry decisions

Towns is projected to be a top two pick in the NBA Draft, with many expecting that he will be taken No. 1 over Duke center Jahlil Okafor. Cauley-Stein is a top ten pick, while Lyles and Booker are both expected to be taken somewhere between the late lottery and the late first round.

Things are a bit different for the twins and Johnson. Johnson will likely get drafted, although he is expected to be a second round pick. The twins, on the other hand, are not guarantee to end up being picked. Andrew is probably the better NBA prospect at this stage, especially given the way he played late in the season, while Aaron is a shooting guard that hasn’t proven to be able to consistently shoot outside of the NCAA tournament.

Tyler Ulis, Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress will all return for the Wildcats, joining Skal Labissiere, Isaiah Briscoe and Charles Matthews, the three freshmen that Kentucky has signed for the 2015-16 season. Labissiere is one of the top prospects in the 2015 class, a guy that is projected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft. Briscoe is a top ten recruit and a talented scoring guard, while Matthews is a four-star prospect.

Kentucky is still in the mix for a number of elite recruits that have yet to commit to a school, including Jaylen Brown, Cheick Diallo, Stephen Zimmermann and Thon Maker, among others.

We had Kentucky has the preseason No. 4 team in the country when we put out our list earlier this week, and nothing unexpected with any of the other teams in the top five has happened since then. As good as Labissiere is, they will ideally add some front court depth this spring, be it a freshman or a graduate transfer that is eligible immediately.

Reports: Andrew, Aaron Harrison will declare for the NBA Draft

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Aaron and Andrew Harrison are headed to the NBA, according to reports from CBSSports.com and Real GM.

Andrew is projected as a second round pick by Draft Express, while Aaron is projected to be undrafted.

The twins would be the second and third players from Kentucky to be headed to the NBA. After Saturday’s loss to Wisconsin, Willie Cauley-Stein, who is a likely top ten pick, told reporters that he’s “pretty sure” of what he wants to do and that he “probably was my last game here”.

Kentucky could end up with as many as seven players heading to the NBA. Karl Anthony-Towns, potentially the No. 1 overall pick, is assumed to be headed to the NBA. Trey Lyles will likely follow him there. Devin Booker has a chance to be a lottery pick, and while he’s leaning towards leaving, my understanding is there is a chance he returns. He gets along very well with Tyler Ulis and likes the idea of sharing a back court with him for a full season.

Dakari Johnson is closer to 50-50. He’s projected as a second round pick and, if he makes some improvements this offseason, could end up playing his way into the first round. The other part of it is that the 2015 recruiting class is not as stronger as the 2014 class, meaning that he may end up with less competition in the first round.

Frank Kaminsky comments on Andrew Harrison controversy: ‘Nothing needs to be made out of it’

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One of the hot-button topics in the aftermath of No. 1 Wisconsin’s win over No. 1 Kentucky Saturday night was the offensive statement muttered by Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison in response to teammate Karl-Anthony Towns being asked a question about Wisconsin senior big man Frank Kaminsky.

Shortly after the comment came to light Harrison took to Twitter to apologize for his actions, and he also reached out to Kaminsky personally regarding the matter. During Wisconsin’s media availability on Sunday both Kaminsky and head coach Bo Ryan were asked about the incident, with both acknowledging the situation and the fact that Harrison reached out to apologize for his words.

“Yeah, he reached out to me,” Kaminsky said. “We talked about it. Over it. Nothing needs to be made out of it.”

“Yeah, in this day and age, it always reminds all of us,” Ryan added when asked if this can serve as a “teachable moment.” “It reminds us that whatever we say can and will be heard, it seems. So, yeah, the teaching moment is the individual himself learned from it obviously by reaching out to Frank. So we’ll leave it at that.”

It’s pretty clear that Wisconsin simply wants to move on to the task at hand, which for them is their national title game against No. 1 Duke Monday night. And the Badgers’ situation can be compared to the one that Mike Krzyzewski’s first national title team experienced in 1991.

Duke beat then-undefeated UNLV 79-77 in the national semifinals, and their win (somewhat) avenged a 30-point loss to the Runnin’ Rebels in the 1990 national title game. While there was some celebrating the Blue Devils hadn’t achieved their goal at that point, which was to win the national title. Duke was able to do that two nights later against Kansas.

How Andrew Harrison helped preserve Kentucky’s legacy now that they’re 38-and-Done

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INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Harrison’s postgame comments regarding Frank Kaminsky, while simultaneously being incredibly stupid and not at all a big deal, may end up going down in history as the moment that saved this Kentucky team’s legacy.

Since that press conference, twitter and sports talk radio and the blogs have all been dominated with #hottake after #hottake regarding those now infamous three words, meaning that we avoided having to listen to the “experts” that swoop in every March explain how this is yet another example of John Calipari’s lack of coaching prowess. Or how Kentucky’s loss somehow damages what they did accomplish this season. Or that this year was a waste without a Wildcat title.

Because all of that nonsense is ridiculous.

You want to know why Kentucky lost to the Badgers on Saturday night, two wins short of the first 40-0 season in the history of the sport?

It’s because an extremely good Wisconsin team that matches up perfectly with the Wildcats played a damn-near perfect game. It’s because the Badgers were able to keep the ball from getting pounded into Karl Anthony-Towns in the final seven or eight minutes, turning Kentucky’s offense into isolations for the Harrison twins. It’s because Sam Dekker and Bronson Koenig made a number of big shots. It’s because Kaminsky is special. It’s because Wisconsin gave up offensive rebounds on just four of Kentucky’s 58 possessions on Saturday night and just a single offensive rebound to someone not named Towns.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say that, given how well the Badgers played, the fact that Kentucky had control of the game with five minutes left and possession with a chance to tie the game with 30 seconds on the clock as evidence of just how good this team truly is.

They’re one of the best teams that we’ve ever seen in college basketball, and a loss in the Final Four doesn’t change that. And while it’s not an ideal list to be on, UK will forever be linked to 1999 Duke and 1991 UNLV and the like as the best teams not to win a national title.

That should be disappointing. They should be crushed. This team never said it publicly, but it’s impossible for them not to know they were three days away from making history. That’s hard for anyone to take. I’ve been in a lot of losing locker rooms, and that was one of the toughest to deal with. Tyler Ulis was slumped in his locker, hood up as tears glistened in the corner of his eye. Devin Booker couldn’t take his eyes off the floor. Aaron Harrison spoke so softly it was barely audible. One player, whose name I’ll keep to myself, was sobbing inconsolably.

Those tears should tell you just how competitive this team was, and it should let you know just how much perfection meant to them.

“It’s like a movie,” Willie Cauley-Stein said. “The main character dies, and you’re like, ‘What?! Why did the main character die?’ And you’re just, like, super-hurt over the main character dying or the good guy, the guy you never suspect is going to die ends up dying. No cliffhangers, no nothing. That’s the way it feels.”

“I wanted to hold a trophy off the bus, off the plane, and just hear everybody go crazy,” he added. “Because Lord knows there would be 10,000 people at our airport. They’re still going to be there, but it’s just going to be a different feeling.”

But while Kentucky didn’t get to their 40-0 goal and didn’t get their national title, what they did do was something that we’ve never seen before. They won the first 38 games of the season, a number that may never be matched. They rolled through the SEC, winning the regular season and tournament titles in impressive fashion. And they did it all while pooling together eight McDonalds All-Americans and as many as nine future NBA players who didn’t care about minutes or shots as much as they did wins.

And perhaps most impressive of all? They made the big, bad Kentucky Wildcats and their overlord, John Calipari, quite likable.

This was a special team that gave us one hell of a ride all season long.

And anyone that tries to spin this differently is doing them a disservice.

Kentucky looking into postgame comment made by Andrew Harrison

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No. 1 Kentucky’s 71-64 loss to No. 1 Wisconsin Saturday night was a frustrating one for the Wildcats, as they struggled down the stretch offensively after turning an eight-point deficit into a four-point lead. Included in that stretch were three shot clock violations, with the Wildcats failing to get the ball in to Karl-Anthony Towns on a consistent basis.

Predictably the scene was a somber one following the loss, as a Kentucky team two wins away from making history as the first 40-0 squad in Division I men’s college basketball fell short of its goal. And during the team’s postgame press conference, sophomore guard Andrew Harrison allowed his frustrations to get the best of him.

With Towns being asked a question about Wisconsin senior big man Frank Kaminsky, Harrison was thought to utter both a profanity and a slur under his breath. As Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes learned during a much lighter moment earlier in the tournament, the microphones at the podium pick up a lot.

According to the Associated Press, Kentucky is looking into Harrison’s comment. Per the report, a review of the audio by the Associated Press revealed that “the phrase is audible, but muffled.” Kentucky did not have a comment on the situation, with a school spokesman telling the AP that they won’t have one until they’re able to evaluate the audio.

Harrison took to Twitter in the early hours of Sunday to apologize to Kaminsky.

Top-ranked Kentucky moves to 32-0 with SEC tournament win over Florida

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One year after Florida won all 18 of its SEC regular season games and the SEC tournament title, No. 1 Kentucky moved one step closer to accomplishing the same feat with a win over the Gators.

The Wildcats weren’t at their best offensively, shooting 37.5 percent from the field, but they limited Florida to 33.3 shooting in the second half as they went on to win 64-49 in Nashville. Florida, which trailed by four at the break and by five with 7:40 remaining, went more than five minutes without a point as Kentucky clamped down defensively and established a comfortable margin down the stretch.

Karl-Anthony Towns and Aaron Harrison scored 13 points apiece as Kentucky’s lone double-digit scorers, with Town adding a game-high 12 rebounds. Towns and Harrison combined to score 16 points, and point guards Andrew Harrison and Tyler Ulis combined for four assists and one turnover in the second half.

The Wildcats didn’t shoot much better from the field in the second half than they did in the first, making 39.1 percent of their attempts, but they did get to the foul line on a far more frequent basis. Kentucky shot 13-for-15 from the foul line in the second half, outscoring Florida by ten points in that department.

For Florida, which has struggled with inconsistency all season, to have a shot at beating Kentucky they needed their best players to be productive and that didn’t happen. Dorian Finney-Smith (four points) made two of his ten shots from the field, and Michael Frazier (two points on 0-for-4 shooting) struggled as well. What helped Florida hang around was the play of Eli Carter and Jon Horford, who finished with a combined 26 points on 12-for-20 shooting, but not getting solid afternoons from Finney-Smith and Frazier proved costly especially during the decisive scoring drought.

From an NCAA tournament seeding standpoint Kentucky won’t gain anything this weekend. They’ll still be the top overall seed, and geographically speaking their path to the Final Four looks to be one with stops in Louisville and Cleveland before getting to Indianapolis (provided they win, of course).

But there’s still the need to work towards getting better each day, and Friday’s win will give Kentucky plenty to look at when it comes to pinpointing where they need to improve with an eye towards a national title run.