DES MOINES — Alex Poythress is gone. Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray and Skal Labissiere are as good as gone.
Isaiah Briscoe? That’s a tough one.
Projected as a 2016 NBA lottery pick last fall, the guard’s stock has dropped significantly; enough so that he might not be “one-and-done” after all.
DraftExpress.com currently lists him as the draft’s No. 76 prospect, a ranking that would leave him out of the two-round, 60-pick event in June. NBADraft.net currently does not list Briscoe in its Top 100.
Saturday, the freshman sat dejectedly at his locker and refused to discuss his future.
“I’m not thinking about that,” Briscoe said.
If he were at any other program, it would be an easy decision: Stay for one or two more seasons, become a star and show off a broad range of skills.
But he plays for Kentucky, and there’s another wave of superstars headed to Lexington.
“We got a heck of a group coming in,” coach John Calipari said Saturday. “Maybe the best I’ve ever had.”
Even if Briscoe stays and beats out the incoming class to retain his starting spot, he likely still would not be a go-to offensive option after a poor shooting season (5-for-37 from 3-point range).
He showed an ability to get to the basket, but never got his jump shots to fall on a regular basis.
That’s the key thing scouts will be looking for in the pre-draft process, or if Briscoe sticks around Lexington. There are no issues with his athleticism or frame (6-foot-3, 202 pounds), and he has the tools to be a strong defensive presence at the next level.
Due to a new NBA rule, players are allowed to declare for the draft, test the waters, and then still return to school if they don’t like what they’re hearing from the professional ranks.
Briscoe is one of the players — along with teammates such as Marcus Lee and Charles Matthews — who will likely go through that process and gauge how high his name might be called at the draft, if at all.
If he wants to play another season at Kentucky, it can’t be comforting to hear Calipari’s excitement about the fresh faces headed to town.
“The big picture of this is we’re all right,” Calipari said after Saturday’s loss. “Now I’m going to have a brand new team again next year.”