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In the upcoming NBA draft that will be held this summer, seven University of Kentucky Wildcats will be eligible. It marks the first time that seven players will be eligible to be drafted from the same team. The draft is scheduled to be held June 25 in Brooklyn NY at the new Barclays Center arena.
The declarations of eligibility were held on the university’s campus at the Joe Craft Center. The seven players making the announcement included Willie Cauley-Stein, Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Dakari Johnson, Devin Booker, Trey Lyles and Karl-Anthony Towns. It is being speculated that Booker, who is a pinpoint shooting guard, and the skilled 6 foot 10 inch freshman Lyles will get picked up in the first round. The other players will most likely go in the second round.
While the coach for the Wildcats, John Calapari, could not be prouder of his players, he knows that he has quite the task ahead of him. Kentucky has just come off a record season, where they went 38-0. The Wildcats are the first team ever to ever post such a record. Rebuilding such a high-caliber team that has just lost seven of its players to the NBA draft will not be easy. Calipari emphasized that it was up to each individual player to make their own decision to turn pro, and that he didn’t weigh in. He said that he did not step in and try to convince them to either stay or go. Their decisions were completely unique, and that it was left up to the players and their families alone.
The University of Kentucky has had some glorious teams in their celebrated history, and with that there have been other instances where a high number of players have gone on to get drafted into the NBA. In 2010, five Wildcats were selected in the first round. It was first time in NBA draft history for that to happen. In 2012, six players went on to get drafted in the first and second rounds. That currently is record for the most players from the same team to get picked up, and drafted into the NBA. In this year’s NBA draft, the seven Wildcat players that are eligible sit poised to break their own record.
Freshman Trey Lyeles commented that it was a really tough decision for him. He looks back on all of the bonds of friendship he developed with the coaching staff, and with the other players. However, he knew that this was the next logical step for him. Ever since he was a kid this has been his dream to one day get chosen in the NBA draft.
Sophomore Dakari Johnson echoed some of those sentiments. He went on to say that he knew that it was his time to go. He said that the night before he prayed, and God told him that he was ready. He had always hoped that he was good enough to play at the same level as some of the greatest players to ever play the game. He feels that his time at Kentucky was well spent, and that it made him mentally stronger and ready for what faces him now. That could be said of all seven of the Wildcat players entered into this year’s NBA draft. Each one of these players goes with high hopes and dreams, and they all believe that they are ready to make an impact at the pro level.
By Alec Rosenberg