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Kentucky trio declares for NBA Draft: What will the Wildcats look like in 2011-12?
According to Inside Hoops, Kentucky's Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight and DeAndre Liggins are all declaring for the NBA Draft, though it sounds like they're not yet hiring agents.
Most of us that follow the Kentucky Wildcats fully expected that Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight would leave after this year. They are both likely top 15 picks.
As I said in a recent column, Jones' stock could not get higher. He pretty much has to go before more of his weaknesses are exposed. He also would be hurt by the reduced playing time he would get in the 2011-12 season.
Knight will be a high pick but he could wait a year and improve slightly. His leaving is not a surprise. The surprise of the three is DeAndre Liggins. Like Jones, his stock could not get much higher. He also has a baby to think about now. If he doesn't get drafted, he will likely go overseas to make some money. Doron Lamb's return was critical because of his perimeter scoring. However, Liggins' departure will be tough blow for the Cats because of his experience and defense.
Where does that leave the 2011-12 Wildcats?
The squad should look like this:
PG - Marquis Teague
SG - Doron Lamb
F - Michael Gilchrist
F - Darius Miller
C - Anthony Davis
Stacey Poole, Jr.
Obviously, Lamb has a huge chance to become the go-to scorer on this team. Staying was a good choice for Lamb. If he adds some muscle, he will be a great player. Look for him to bounce off screens and demonstrate his deadly shooting. Don't be shocked if Lamb scores around 20 points a game.
Miller's senior year won't look much different than his junior year. As I said in a previous column, he has an outside chance at the NBA with continued improvement. His minutes may go down but that may not matter that much.
Teague will take his place on the list of great point guards to play for Coach Cal. He probably won't score like Knight did but will have more assists. His arrival might have sealed the deal for Knight's departure.
Davis is an obvious beast. The sky is the limit for him. Gilchrist is another great player who will make an immediate impact.
The key to the 2010-11 team's success was the combination of talent and leadership from the upperclassmen. Nobody expected Josh Harrellson to have the year he put up. Maybe Vargas can follow in his footsteps. Poole may step into Liggins' role as defensive stopper. Hood and Wiltjer should get steady minutes. These unknowns will make the season exciting.
Keep in mind that Knight, Jones, and Liggins don't have agents left and could return. If that happens, Kentucky will earn another title. If they don't, this team will still contend for a title.
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