ESPN analyst Chad Ford moved Kentucky center Nerlens Noel back to No. 1 on his NBA Draft Big Board on Tuesday. His advice for the other three UK freshmen: Stay in school.
Noel had fallen from the No. 1 spot on Ford’s list after his season-ending knee injury at Florida. He was No. 2 after the latest update, but the UK big man jumped Kansas guard Ben McLemore to reclaim the No. 1 spot.
Ford wrote of his decision to return Noel to No. 1: “After a weekend of talking to NBA decision-makers, it sounds like most of them are now leaning that direction.”
Other UK players on ESPN’s board were Willie Cauley-Stein (18th), Alex Poythress (20th) and Archie Goodwin (21st). All three freshmen had dropped in position from the previous update.
Later in a chat for ESPN.com, Ford said Cauley-Stein, Poythress and Goodwin would be better served by returning to Kentucky for their sophomore seasons:
Question: What are the Kentucky freshmen going to do? They have to leave, right? No PT next year, really.
Ford: Don’t know. They all are saying they’re staying. Willie Cauley-Stein will likely be a starter. Poythress and Goodwin are the ones that have to worry about losing their starting job. But coming off the bench won’t kill their stock. In fact, it might help it. I hope they all go back to school. None of them are close to being ready for the NBA.
No UK players have publicly announced their plans for next season. UK released a statement late Monday night that said, “Any information on the 2013-14 UK men’s basketball roster is only speculation. No decisions have been made on players with eligibility remaining, which includes decisions on declaring for the NBA draft.”
The NBA Draft will be held June 27. DraftExpress.com has a good rundown of the important dates for underclassmen who are considering going pro.