Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Kentucky Sends 5 Starters to NBA…Now Can it Happen Again?
Teague is projected to go in the first round and Lamb, a Queens, N.Y., native, could go late-first or early-second.
“During the season, it’s about our team,” Calipari said. “When the season is over, it’s about moments like this.”
This was a special team, a special group at Kentucky, a group that sacrificed of themselves for greater team goals.
Now the question is, Will something like this ever happen again?
“I think it’s possible…at Kentucky again.,” one veteran NBA scout told SNY.tv. “Although I don’t know how probable it is. It could happen because John demonstrated he’s a special recruiter.”
Kentucky’s incoming recruiting class is already ranked No. 1 by several national outlets and features four players in Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin, Willie Cauley and Alex Poythress.
Kentucky missed out on wing Shabazz Muhammad, who may turn into the best wing scorer in college basketball next year, but remains involved with forwards Anthony Bennett and Amile Jefferson.
The 6-foot-10 Noel is the most heralded of the group, and is projected to slot right into Davis’s slot as the shot-blocking big man at Kentucky.
“Coming out there with Kentucky on my chest, I think that’s going to be big expectations to come out and perform every day,” Noel told FiveStarBasketball.com. “I love it. I live for the pressure, I live for the game.”
Noel and his fellow newcomers will join sophomore Kyle Wiltjer, the lone returning Wildcat, and N.C. State transfer Ryan Harrow.
They will have huge shoes to fill after what this special Kentucky group accomplished.
“They played great defense, they played very unselfishly,” the NBA scout said. “They all gave up of themselves so they could win. They sacrificed individual stuff for the greater glory.”
Though there was some thought that Teague and Lamb might remain in college, their stock will likely never be higher than it is right now and the NBA scout said he doesn’t think any of them are making a mistake by coming out now.
“I feel that Teague will be a first-round pick because of his upside, his athleticism, he comes from a basketball family,” the scout said, referring to Marquis’ older brother, Jeff, of the Atlanta Hawks. “He accepted and really thrived with good coaching. He allowed himself to be coached and he improved tremendously as the season progressed.
“He’s a jet. He has the NBA body. He has the NBA physical tools. It comes with the family.”
As for Lamb, a 6-4 combo guard, Calipari said, “When his motor’s running, there is no better guard in the country.”
“Doron did a great job,” the NBA scout said. “He’s the best shooter on Kentucky. A good backup point guard can score, can pass. Understands just what the coach wants. He’s really a very underrated player.
“He loves the bright lights. The bigger the game, the bigger the night. On another team, he would’ve got 18 to 20 points on a lesser team.”
Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist (who’s just 18) and Jones are all no-brainers, the scout said.
“What more can be said,” the scout said of DAvis. “The draft begins at 2 because Anthony Davis is a lock at 1. All the awards, all the accoladaes are well deserved.”
He added: “Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is I think anywhere from 3 to 8. And Terrence Jones is I think probably 10 to 16.”
All in all, this was a special team.
Even the John Wall/DeMarcus Cousins team, with all its talent, wasn’t cohesive enough to win a title.
But this team, with all its talent, sacrificed to get Calipari his first championship.
And now the pressure will fall to next year’s group.
Can it happen again?
Time will tell, but Calipari is likely the only coach who could ever make it happen.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
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.