Last week, Coach Calipari began his annual State of the Cats address and today, he continues with Part 2, “Four for the Draft.”
We’re now just a few weeks from the 2011 NBA Draft and I am again looking forward to sharing that special night with our four former Wildcat players – Josh Harrellson, Enes Kanter, Brandon Knight andDeAndre Liggins.
I’m like all of the Big Blue Nation – anxiously waiting to see where more of our UK family members will begin their professional careers. However, unlike you, I have been in contact with several of the decision-makers for almost all of the NBA teams and I have an “educated” guess on where our foursome of Final Four Cats may wind up in the Draft.
More than anything, I’m just proud that Josh, Enes, Brandon and DeAndre are able to pursue their dreams after having poured their hearts out for the greatest college basketball fans in the country. Here’s what I’ve been hearing on each of our guys. (We’ll go alphabetically!!)
Josh has continued to impress teams with his skill level and understanding of the game. His workouts have been going well and I could definitely see a late-round team like Miami (where Josh worked out on Wednesday) grabbing him. Josh brings a great mentality with him to his next team – he’s been both a reserve and starter and he goes about his job with a blue collar attitude that championship organizations love. Every team is looking for a big man who can rebound and make open shots.
This one is so hard for me because as more and more people see what we saw all year at the Joe Craft Center with Enes, I can’t help but think how much more special last season could have been if our big teenager had been able to join us for our Final Four run! He just turned 19 a few weeks ago. There is a strong possibility that Enes could be the No. 1 overall pick. If it were my decision, Enes is who I would pick at No. 1. Here’s why: he can truly be a dominating kind of player; he can be a Karl Malone-type big man. As the league gets smaller (size-wise) his ability to dominate his position will grow. He’s got a position and a true size. If he doesn’t go No. 1 he will go shortly thereafter and the teams that passed on him will look back and wince at that decision. I’m biased because I love him, but I’m also talking in pragmatic terms.
Brandon’s work ethic has never been in doubt but teams have now been able to see just how high his skill level is when they get him in for workouts. They said at the Sacramento workout (here on YouTube), he looked like a machine. He’s bigger, faster and more skilled than any of these teams thought. And the kicker in all this becomes the one-on-one meetings teams have had with Brandon. One team even said it was the best meeting they’ve ever had with a prospect. Without knowing particulars, I imagine his psychological tests will be off the charts also. He will be drafted within the first 25 minutes of the draft. I’ve made one comment to all the teams, whatever you think his upside is within three or four years, he will become that because of his work ethic.
DeAndre Liggins – Tony Allen. DeAndre Liggins – Tony Allen. DeAndre Liggins – Tony Allen. get the point? What DeAndre will add to a team, physically, defensively and in terms of toughness is excatly what happened with the Memphis Grizzlies and Tony Allen this year. What everybody was surprised about was his ability to make an open NBA 3-pointer. What they are seeing is that he can guard the 1, 2 or 3; will scrap like crazy and if he’s open, he’s making that 3 – just like he did vs. UNC. His workouts have gone well and if he doesn’t get picked in the latter part of the 1st round, he will be gone by the middle of the 2nd round.
Now, keep in mind, I’ve been wrong before. . . It might have been 1978. Or 1977!!
Lastly, I just want you all to know that I am looking forward to this year’s Draft on June 23 as much as I was looking forward to last year’s draft.
Next up: A look at the returnees followed by a look at the newcomers.