Seven members of the 38-1 Kentucky men’s basketball team declared for the NBA draft on Thursday, officially eliminating what little mystery remained.
Willie Cauley-Stein, Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Karl-Anthony Towns, Trey Lyles, Devin Booker and Dakari Johnson are all leaving early with the hopes of breaking the school’s record for most first round picks from one school in a single draft. Kentucky had six first-round picks in 2012.
Towns is projected to be a potential No. 1 pick. Towns, Booker and Lyles are all freshmen, raising John Calipari’s one-and-done count up to 16 in his five years at Kentucky.
Don’t feel too bad for Kentucky though. The Wildcats bring back Tyler Ulis and Marcus Lee, two talented players in Dominique Hawkins and Derek Willis, in addition to No. 3 overall recruit Skal Labissiere and two other top-100 recruits.
Alex Poythress could still declare, but it seems likely that he will return for his senior season in an effort to build his stock back up after tearing his ACL this season.
Towns, Cauley-Stein, Booker and Lyles all project as first-round picks. The Harrison twins could be late-first round picks, while Johnson is a likely second-round pick or a late first rounder based on perceived potential.
We’ll likely be having this same conversation a year from now regarding which Kentucky players are next to take the leap.