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.
NBA Execs: Kentucky Could Have 8 1st-Round Picks Next Year
PHILADELPHIA — After landing arguably the greatest recruiting class in the history of college basketball, Kentucky could have as many as eight first-round NBA Draft picks next season, one NBA Director of Scouting told SNY.tv.
Kentucky spokesman DeWayne Peevy told SNY.tv Friday that there is no official list of which players will return to campus next year, but freshmen Willie Cauley-Stein, Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythresshave all said they plan on returning.
Freshman big man Nerlens Noel has yet to announce his plans, but he is projected as one of the top couple picks in the 2013 draft, along with Kansas’s Ben McLemore, Indiana’s Cody Zeller, Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart and UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad.
“If the three players come back (Poythress, Goodwin and Cauley-Stein), they could have eight first-round picks on the same team…unreal!” the Director of Scouting said.
On the DraftExpress.com Mock Draft for 2013, Noel is projected as the No. 1 pick, Poythress is No. 15 and Goodwin is No. 18. Cauley-Stein is listed as No. 21 on the “Top 100 Prospects” for this year, but is listed as No. 10 on the 2014 Mock Draft.
Though the trio said they want to come back, one West Coast GM said they should come out now because next year’s draft will be much stronger than this year’s.
“I still think the three frosh need to come out,” the GM said. “They will go later next year than this year.”
As we reported here in this earlier story, the 2013 draft is considered “historically weak,” especially in comparison with the loaded 2014 crew.
Meantime, on the DraftExpress 2014 Mock Draft, Kentucky currently has commits from the No. 2 (Julius Randle), 3 (Andrew Harrison), 9 (Aaron Harrison) and 10 picks (Cauley-Stein).
They are also in the hunt for the projected No. 1 and No. 4 overall picks in Andrew Wiggins and Aaron Gordon.
The NBA GM also said that Kentucky pledges Dakari Johnson and James Young could be first-round picks next year.
“Only question would be if they go high enough to come out based on the numbers they will get with limited minutes, but they are first-rounders,” the GM said.
Kentucky also has a pledge from 6-9 forward Marcus Lee, a potential NBA player down the road.
No matter who comes out and who stays, one thing’s for sure: NBA scouts will be renting apartments in Lexington next year to follow the team.
“[Randle] makes their class one of the greatest of all time,” the Director of Scouting said. “Certainly makes it so that you would scout their squad more than any other team in the country.”
Added yet another NBA scout of Kentucky:
“There will be scouts at both practices and most of their games next year. They will be recruited heavier than any other team in college going into next year especially if any of their freshman stay in school. Wiggins will be seen by everyone but Kentucky as a team will be scouted more than anyone.”
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.