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Tuesday / February 21.

26 NBA Personnel Expected at Louisville-Kentucky; Backcourt Matchup Will Be Key for Scouts

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Twenty-six NBA personnel are expected at Saturday’s Louisville-Kentucky game, a school spokesman told

The two teams feature five players projected by as 2014 first round picks — No. 2 Julius Randle (Kentucky), No. 9 Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky), No. 12 Montrezl Harrell (Louisville), No. 15 James Young and No. 30 Alex Poythress (Kentucky). Louisville’s Russ Smith is also projected as a second-round pick at No. 36.

As previously reported here, Kentucky freshmen guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison were recently moved to the 2015 Mock Draft by Draft Express, as was Kentucky big man Dakari Johnson. Louisville’s Wayne Blackshear is a projected second-round pick in 2015.

One of the more interesting matchups to watch will be the backcourt showdown between the Harrisons of Kentucky, listed at 6-6, and the 6-foot Smith and the 5-10 Chris Jones of Louisville.

The Harrisons have fallen in mock drafts and in the eyes of scouts even though Aaron Harrison was just named SEC Freshman of the Week for the second time this season.

“[Andrew] has probably fallen the most on our board from where he started,” draft guru Chad Ford recently told

“I think we had him at No. 8 to start the season and he’s at No. 20 now and that’s probably a little bit generous given what he’s done so far. But he’s talented.”

The Louisville guards give up some serious height to the Harrisons, but Smith, especially, brings the experience of a national championship run last season.

“It’s going to be hard,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said of the backcourt matchup. “They play in fourth and fifth gear, here they come. So if you stop at any point, it’s like, oh my gosh you stopped playing. It is really evident. But they run good stuff. They’re well coached, they play hard, if they see weakness, they see blood, they’re coming. Here they come. And they’re a good team; they’re where they should be ranked. They’re a top-five team.”

Kentucky’s Dominique Hawkins , listed at 6-foot, could also see time guarding Smith, the New York City product.

“It’s a good challenge for us,” Hawkins said. “We need to play guards like this because in the future, in the long run we’ll be playing two guards, probably, because these guards, they’re able to shoot the ball well and attack to the basket well. It’s going to challenge us pretty well.”

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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.