It could be one-and-done for all four of Kentucky’s freshmen.
ESPN.com analyst Chad Ford was asked about the NBA Draft possibilities for Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein in Wednesday’s chat.
Here’s the exchange:
Question: Where do Kentucky’s 4 talented frosh project in the latest draft? All lottery picks? Any chance any will return?
Chad Ford: Noel, Poythress & Goodwin are locks for the lottery. Cauley-Stein could sneak in there too. Given the stellar incoming class for Kentucky, not sure any of them stay, though I could make the argument that all of them REALLY need another year under Calipari to max out their potential.
Cauley-Stein is rated 24th by Ford, but the 7-footer’s unique size and skill set could lead a team to take a chance on him earlier in the draft. (The “lottery” includes the first 14 picks).
Calling Noel, Goodwin and Poythress “locks” for the lottery is telling of the draft-on-potential nature of the NBA. All three have had their struggles — and Poythress’ play continues to perplex Calipari and UK fans — but there’s seemingly no level of inconsistency that can keep them out of the lottery in what is considered a weak draft year.
If Cauley-Stein joins those three in the draft, it will be the first time that an entire UK recruiting class leaves after one season. Jon Hood (2010); Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb and Stacey Poole (2011); and Kyle Wiltjer (2012) all returned after their freshman seasons.
It would also mean the possibility of an all-freshman starting lineup at UK in 2013-14.
Humor this hypothetical lineup (uncommitted players in italics):
PG: Andrew Harrison
SG: Aaron Harrison
SF: James Young or Andrew Wiggins
PF: Marcus Lee or Julius Randle or Aaron Gordon
C: Dakari Johnson
It’s not that far-fetched. Cauley-Stein’s departure would make UK the clear favorite for Johnson (if the Cats aren’t already the favorite). And if all four leave early, it would probably increase UK’s chances of landing more than one of their four targets for 2013.
With Ryan Harrow almost sure to come off the bench behind the Harrisons, Kyle Wiltjer is the only upperclassman with a realistic chance to start on next season’s squad (assuming there are no immediately eligible transfers a la Julius Mays).
A new “Fab Five” at UK? How does that sound?
I recommend checking out Chad Ford’s entire chat over at ESPN.com. He has more commentary on Noel and Goodwin, as well as questions about ex-Cats DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall. READ THE WHOLE THING HERE