New York – No wonder John Calipari loves the NBA Draft so much. It never fails to turn into a love fest for him and his Kentucky program. For example:
“Kentucky prepared me for it,” former Wildcat and projected lottery pick Skal Labissiere said Wednesday to the assembled New York media horde. “People say that six months at Kentucky doesn’t prepare you for the NBA, but the way I see it, talking to other guys from other schools, six months at Kentucky is equivalent to five years at another school.
“I’ve talked to some guys from other schools that haven’t done skill work in four years. It’s just like, ‘Wow, Kentucky is just a different place.’ ”
And then there was Jamal Murray, who is projected to go as high as third overall in Thursday night’s draft. When Calipari needed a shooter for last season’s team, Murray reclassified, leaving high school a year early, and headed to Lexington.
“It was a good decision,” said Murray, who set UK’s freshman scoring and 3-point records. “Kentucky was a great choice in schools. It all played out, all worked out the way I wanted it to.”
OK, but how about an unbiased voice in this chorus of praises? ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford qualifies, but he is no less effusive.
“What John Calipari does is have huge influence all season because of the ways he plays his players, the system that he runs and the access that he gives the NBA tems,” Ford said. “He does help players get drafted. There’s no question if my kid was an elite prospect, I would send him to Kentucky. I think that would give him the best shot to go high in the draft.”
By the end of Thursday night, Calipari could have 29 players picked, 22 in the first round and 15 in the lottery in seven drafts as the Cats’ coach. He’s had four No. 1 overall picks, three of them at UK.
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