Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

FIEGE: Calipari’s Roster is Loaded With Talent

Much to the chagrin of my bracket, the Kentucky Wildcats improved to 38-0 this past Saturday evening as they squeaked past the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 68-66.

After trailing for most of the second half, Coach John Calipari’s squad capitalized on a poor three-point shooting effort by Notre Dame to stay in the game. Kentucky eventually sank its last nine shots and iced the game on two free throws by Andrew Harrison.

Set to face senior center Frank Kaminsky and his Wisconsin Badgers in the Final Four, the Kentucky Wildcats will be faced with the biggest challenge yet to their claim of perfection.

I must admit that my bracket had Arizona and Iowa State in the Championship, so I am not particularly invested in the outcome of the Wisconsin-Kentucky game. Instead, I am more interested in the professional aspiration of the incredibly talented Kentucky squad.

In this age of “one-and-done” collegiate basketball, the NBA draft, which will be held on June 25, will drain away the majority of the talent the Wildcats’ current iteration has. With at least five players projected to go within the first 30 picks of the draft, it comes as no surprise that Calipari has opened practices to NBA scouts over the course of the season.

Two Kentucky players are predicted to be chosen in the first 14 picks of the draft. Freshman Karl-Anthony Towns is slated to go within the first three picks, whereas junior Willie Cauley-Stein will go more toward the end of the lottery selections.

These two stars present a unique juxtaposition of the variety found at the center position in basketball, as while both are large human beings — both are seven-footers and weigh in around 245 pounds — their playing styles are notably different.

Towns attracts NBA scouts for his offensive prowess: despite only playing an average of 20 minutes per game in Kentucky’s platoon substitution pattern, he scored 10 points per game while converting 55 percent of his field goal attempts, using both post moves and jump shots to get there.

The bottom-feeding New York Knicks have made it no secret that they are incredibly interested in Towns, as their scouts and Team President Phil Jackson himself have attended more than a dozen Kentucky practices.

As an intelligent player with an adaptable offensive approach, he would be crucial in the Knicks’ rebuilding efforts and central to their triangle offense.

Cauley-Stein, on the other hand, boasts the profile of a defensive stalwart. Averaging close to two blocks per game and showcasing both elite athletic ability and game awareness, he is a defensive anchor whose talents will translate seamlessly to the next level.

Granted, his scoring ability leaves a lot to be desired, but Cauley-Stein should be able to acclimate himself to the pick-and-roll heavy offenses of the NBA.

As a poor-man’s DeAndre Jordan or Tyson Chandler, he should see decent minutes as a rookie on a team that could use better rim protection, such as the Sacramento Kings or the Los Angeles Lakers.

Looking past the lottery, there are more Kentucky players that could be expected to join the NBA ranks.
As a player with a six-foot-five frame who averages 42 percent from beyond the arc, freshman Devin Booker figures to be a mid-first round pick.

Fellow freshman guard Tyler Ulis may also stand a chance in the NBA draft with his deft passing ability and three-point shooting. Ulis, who stands at a significantly shorter five-foot-nine, draws parallels to Isaiah Thomas, another undersized guard in the NBA.

Sophomore Dakari Johnson could prove to be a serviceable backup big man in the league with a body type similar to Nene’s that will allow him to make an impact as a second-round pick.

Finally, junior Alex Poythress and sophomores Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison would be expected to be late second-round picks should they declare for the draft.

Year in and year out, Calipari never fails to put together a star-studded lineup.

The current squad, which is seeking to become the first collegiate team to finish with a perfect record since the Indiana Hoosiers did it four decades ago, could potentially lose eight of its scholarship athletes by next season.

Forget the Mongols and the Vandals; the NBA draft is the real dynasty killer.




Max Fiege is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service. OUT OF OUR LEAGUE appears every Tuesday.

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