Kentucky, which will enter the year as the top team in the nation, held a highly-anticipated event on Friday afternoon. While the TV guide listed the two-hour time slot as “Kentucky Basketball Practice” it was really a platform for John Calipari’s players to showcase their abilities to the decision-makers at the next level.
Jay Bilas welcomed a national TV audience to ESPNU‘s coverage of Kentucky’s NBA draft combine by informing viewers that 90 NBA scout and front office personnel were off to the sideline watching the latest crop of prospects for the Wildcats. Ninety.
For two hours players were put through drills, 3-on-3 scrimmages, spot-up shooting, five-minute shooting and finally 5-on-5 scrimmages.
Calipari took a few moments to step away from his genius idea come to life to talk to the ESPNU crew of Bilas, Seth Greenberg and Avery Johnson.
“If it goes the way it’s looking, it may be something we do every year,” Calipari told the crew.
“I did one (combine) in 2011, postseason and it got outlaw. This will probably get outlawed, too,” Calipari said before jokingly warning other coaches about copying his NBA-filled practice.
Later in the broadcast a graphic went up on the screen ESPN NBA Draft expert Chad Ford’s big board. He had eight players from Kentucky being selected. Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein going in the lottery, Alex Poythress in the late first round. The Harrison twins, Dakari Johnson, Trey Lyles and Marcus Lee — all projected early second rounders — were slotted as top-50 picks. The current DraftExpress.com mock draft has six Kentucky players going in the upcoming June draft. Of course, draft boards are subject to change, always and forever.
Regardless, Kentucky’s draft combine was a success. It had college basketball’s attention focused on Lexington and its players on a Friday in October. That could be very well be the case next Friday when the school hosts its annual Big Blue Madness at Rupp Arena.