It’s been almost three months, since the Kentucky Wildcats won the NCAA Tournament. However, the championship celebration continued with last night’s NBA Draft and will carry on today at Kentucky Speedway.
As for the draft, the Wildcats were as prolific last night, as they were in March Madness. An astonishing six players were chosen in what many consider to be a very strong draft class. Kentucky now has a NBA record fifteen players selected during a three year span. That will provide Head Coach John Calipari additional ammunition in recruiting battles and solidifies UK as the school of choice for the elite high school players dreaming of making it to the NBA.
Wildcats Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrest were the first two picks last night. Davis, a 6’10″ 225 lbs Power Forward, was expected to be the #1 pick, and the New Orleans Hornets followed form. However, Kidd-Gilcrest was a surprise #2 choice by the Charlotte Bobcats. The 6’7″ 232 lbs Small Forward was projected as a Top 10 selection but not that high of one. This was the first time in NBA Draft history that the first two picks came from the same school.
Adding to the irony is the fact that the Hornets used to be the team that played in Charlotte. Both them and the Bobcats are in dire need of big-time ballers and more wins in the 2012-2013 season. The two franchises are also desperate for legitimacy.
The Hornets were owned and run by the NBA from December 2010 until April of this year, when New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson purchased the team. There was controversy surrounding the success of the Hornets in the NBA Draft Lottery where they secured the top pick. Scrutiny also came upon the team for an attempted trade of their superstar, Chris Paul, to the Los Angeles Lakers. After NBA Commissioner David Stern disallowed the trade, the Hornets shipped Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers a few days later under the approval of the Commissioner.
The Bobcats, who are owned by Michael Jordan, have only one winning season in the past eight years. They are far from the team of the 90′s that had Charlotte buzzing. Kidd-Gilcrest may be the best draft choice in Bobcats’ history, and he needs to be better than expected in order to provide a foundation for Jordan’s reputation as an owner and talent evaluator.
Wildcat Picks 3-6
Terrence Jones, a 6’8″ 244 lbs Small Forward was the third Wildcat selected. He will play for the Houston Rockets, who chose him 18th overall. The fourth Kentucky player selected was Marquis Teague, a 6’2″ 189 lbs Point Guard. He was the final Wildcat selected in the First Round, as the Chicago Bulls took him at the 29th slot.
Doron Lamb, a 6’4″ 210 lbs Guard, was chosen 42nd by the Milwaukee Bucks to become Kentucky’s fifth draft choice. The sixth, and final, Wildcat selected was Darius Miller. The 6’8″ 225 lbs Forward will be playing with Kidd-Gilchrest in New Orleans next year. He was picked at spot 46.
As I eluded to earlier, Calipari’s recruiting was bolstered in a huge way last night. There isn’t much a coach can do that is more powerful than having current players, especially Freshman (Davis, Kidd-Gilcrest and Teague), being honored on NBA Draft night. Kentucky may be set for the upcoming season, but when it comes time to re-load for 2013-2014, expect the Wildcats to land another outstanding group of players.
Not completely out-shined was the University of North Carolina and its head Coach, Roy Williams. Four Tarheels had their names called last night. Harrison Barnes (Round 1, 7th Overall, Golden State Warriors), Kendall Marshall (Round 1, 13th Overall, Phoenix Suns), John Henson (Round 1, 14th Overall, Milwaukee Bucks) and Tyler Zeller (Round 1, 17th Overall, Dallas Mavericks – Traded to Cleveland Cavaliers) were huge flashing neon recruitment signs.
UK And NASCAR
Today and tomorrow, Michael Waltrip Racing will be celebrating the Wildcats’ 2012 National Championship with a special paint scheme on his 55 Toyota Camry for the Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway. Should Waltrip find his way to Victory Lane Saturday night, the party could last into Sunday as well. Two things are for sure. A lot of UK merchandise will be purchased at the souvenir trailers, and Wildcat blue will be everywhere.