Tag: Devin Booker

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


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:

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.

No. 1 Kentucky moves to 29-0 with blowout win over No. 18 Arkansas

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No. 1 Kentucky has rolled through the majority of its games this season, with head coach John Calipari’s talented mix of freshmen (four of them, to be exact) and returnees who finished one game short of a national title last season establishing themselves as the clear favorites to win the national title. In No. 18 Arkansas, Kentucky was faced with their lone ranked opponent in SEC play, and it should also be noted that the Razorbacks won both meetings last season and held a three-game win streak in the series.

But none of that mattered at Rupp Arena Saturday afternoon, as Kentucky rolled to an 84-67 victory that wasn’t as close as the final margin would lead one to believe. The Wildcats, who shot just 5-for-17 from beyond the arc, outscored the Razorbacks 40-24 in the paint and made nearly 56 percent of their two-point shots.

That percentage inside of the arc may not be considered “elite,” but in Arkansas’ seven-game win streak prior to Saturday’s loss just one team managed to make at least 50 percent of their two-point shots (Missouri). Kentucky simply had too much skill, size and athleticism for the visitors, and while Mike Anderson’s team didn’t quit they were fighting upstream all afternoon.

Starters Andrew Harrison and Trey Lyles scored 18 points apiece, and reserve guards Tyler Ulis (14) and Devin Booker (ten) combined to score 24 off the bench. Aaron Harrison may have shot just 2-for-11 from the field, but Kentucky has more than enough weapons to account for one player’s off afternoon.

Yet even with Kentucky’s offensive options, the biggest problem for Arkansas was the impact Kentucky had on the defensive end. The Wildcats limited the Razorbacks to 37.5% shooting from the field and 5-for-18 from beyond the arc, with both percentages well below Arkansas’s numbers for the season. And for a team that has utilized its depth well throughout the season, Arkansas received just seven points from its reserves.

Arkansas needed to produce its best showing of the season to have a shot at handing Kentucky its first loss of the season. That didn’t occur, and the Wildcats had a lot to do with that. The remainder of Kentucky’s opponents will face similar odds between now and the end of the season. And Saturday’s demolition was the latest piece of evidence that “putting it all together” against the Wildcats is far easier said than done.

No. 1 Kentucky holds off Texas A&M in double overtime for another tough SEC win

Dakari Johnson
source: AP

Earlier in the week Kentucky was able to get past Ole Miss with a decent effort in a close 89-86 overtime home win. The Wildcats once again played to the level of its competition on Saturday as No. 1 Kentucky had its true SEC road game at Texas A&M.

This time it nearly came back to bite them as Kentucky avoided an upset with a 70-64 double-overtime win over the Aggies. Freshman Tyler Ulis hit a huge 3-pointer with a little over a minute left that proved to be the game winner and Dakari Johnson hit two clutch free throws with 14.7 seconds left to put the game away.

Aaron Harrison missed a game-winning 3-pointer to end regulation and it led to an overtime that saw Kentucky lose control in the final minutes. With the Wildcats trailing by two on a final possession out of a timeout in overtime, Trey Lyles was fouled and made two free throws to put the game into double overtime. Texas A&M’s Alex Robinson missed a long 3-pointer on the ensuing possession.

In the second overtime, Lyles gave a big lift with Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein fouled out as he helped give Kentucky new life. After Ulis’ shot, the Wildcats calmed down enough to get stops and win.

Struggling to get consistent offense going and only shooting 28 percent (18-for-64) from the field, Kentucky had to rotate different lineups and work on the defensive end. Wildcat freshman guard Devin Booker emerged as the team’s most consistent offensive threat as he went 4-for-6 from 3-point range to finish with a team-high 18 points. Aaron Harrison again hit a key 3-pointer in the closing minutes to score 12 points while grabbing seven rebounds. But the Harrison twins struggled overall and combined to shoot 6-for-30 from the field as Andrew finished with nine points.

Kentucky (15-0, 2-0) didn’t make plays when they needed to and they couldn’t get away from a team with inferior talent. With a deep rotation, they still couldn’t find the right pieces to make the right plays. Texas A&M (9-5, 0-2) had multiple looks in the final minutes and couldn’t knock them down but extended possessions with offensive rebounds in late-game situations. Andrew Harrison made a questionable decision and missed a contested layup with Kentucky up two and running clock late in regulation. That led to Danuel House being fouled on the other end and tying the game, sending it to overtime.

House had a huge game with 25 points and nine rebounds as he shot 8-for-18 from the field and was nearly unstoppable driving to the rim. He just didn’t have enough help to ultimately topple Kentucky.

Texas A&M went on a 12-5 run the last six minutes of the game to stay within striking distance. Kentucky just couldn’t find a go-to scorer down the stretch with the team struggling to hit shots. Booker looked like he would emerge after a 3-point play to start overtime but he was quiet for the rest of the first overtime.

We knew that Kentucky would likely lose eventually because young players have inconsistent games. The problem is, the loss nearly came to a team that hasn’t been considered a major NCAA Tournament threat all year. Texas A&M lost by 21 points at Alabama four days ago and nearly beat Kentucky. The Wildcats won a tough road game here but ultimately need to be more consistent overall to go unscathed in the SEC but they still got it done with young players stepping up.