It’s becoming a yearly trend for Kentucky Wildcats fans and believers of the program. After implementing the top recruiting class to play in Lexington during the college basketball season, those same players move onto the NBA Draft. The pre-draft question of how many players from Kentucky will be selected in the NBA Draft is a valid one, as they’ve infused the most talent from college program-to-NBA hardwood under brilliant head coach John Calipari.
This season is no different, as the Wildcats look for seven names to be called on June 25 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Supporters of Big Blue Nation can find Brooklyn flights through Hipmunk.com to root for those same players they’ve watched in Lexington. Enjoy New York for the weekend by booking Brooklyn hotels through Hipmunk as well, with rates starting at $89 per night, for what is sure to be another notable night for the rich, storied Kentucky basketball program.
NBA Draft tickets on the secondary market are rising as draft night approaches. With an average ticket price around $95 last week, that mark has soared all the way up to $111.74, with a get-in price of $51 as of June 22.
Below is a short analysis of the players most likely to have their names called on draft night.
Karl-Anthony Towns | Forward/Center | Freshman | 6’11”, 250 lbs.
Devin Booker | Shooting Guard | Freshman | 6’6”, 206 lbs.
Willie Cauley-Stein | Center | Junior | 7’, 240 lbs.
Trey Lyles | Forward | Freshman | 6’10”, 235 lbs.
Karl-Anthony Towns is expected to be selected No. 1 overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves and will not fall further than No. 2, the spot occupied by the Los Angeles Lakers, as he and Jahlil Okafor are the two most-coveted big men in this year’s draft. The running joke for Towns’ average numbers last season is that only Calipari and his rotations stopped the near seven-footer last season, who’s full potential was barely shown during his 21 minutes-per-game.
Devin Booker is the best shooter in this year’s draft and is rightfully drawing Klay Thompson comparisons. Booker’s form is something that will keep him in the league for a long time, and at 6’6”, he won’t have too much trouble getting his shot off if given space.
The draft’s biggest first-round wildcard is Willie Cauley-Stein. There are reports of him drawing interest from as early as the No. 4 pick all the way to the end of the lottery near No. 13 overall. Cauley-Stein is the best defender in the draft and will immediately improve the back line of any team that selects him. Given the Tyson Chandler comparisons, Cauley-Stein will have to develop some offensive tools to remain on the court for longer periods of time.
Meanwhile, Trey Lyles is more of an offensive threat at 6’10” and may have the best basketball mind out of the inevitable first-round Kentucky selections. Basketball just seems to come easy to him, knowing when to use his size or when to blow by larger, slower defenders. He might struggle to defend NBA bigs, but there is certainly room on rosters for nearly seven-foot scorers. Lyles will be selected somewhere in the middle of the first round, probably around pick No. 17.
Dakari Johnson | Center | Sophomore | 7’, 255 lbs.
Andrew Harrison | Point Guard | Sophomore | 6’6”, 210 lbs.
Aaron Harrison | Shooting Guard | Sophomore | 6’6”, 209 lbs.
Dakari Johnson will be selected early in the second round. At 7’0” and over 255 pounds, Johnson will be able to guard in spurts, and will have the chance to become an Amir Johnson-type if his conditioning is right.
Between the Harrison twins, Andrew will have the better chance of hearing his named called, but there’s no doubt they will both be in summer camps trying to earn a spot on NBA teams. After being highly touted in high school for so long, then having the pressure of playing at Kentucky, the Harrison twins are mature, NBA-ready minds that will be ready for anything the league throws at them.