Well, that didn’t take long.
Just a day after we were wondering just how many Kentucky Wildcats would declare for the NBA Draft, the answer is seven. At least.
It was reported Wednesday that twin brothers Aaron and Andrew Harrison were expected to enter the draft on Thursday. Indeed, Kentucky held a press conference Thursday, but the Harrisons were joined at the press date by Devin Booker, Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson, Trey Lyles and Karl-Anthony Towns. Coach John Calipari was there too, and introduced all seven as going pro.
In the end, nothing like this is surprising with a program that markets itself to do exactly this. (In fact, the number of departures could be eight if Alex Poythress still leaves, as he is reportedly considering) Kentucky maybe could’ve saved time by just announcing the returnees for next year, but it will reload with another top-notch recruiting class and will again be picked to be a top 5 team next year. As always noted, Calipari is merely playing by the rules, but any note of that also requires mention of just what an absurd system it is all around. The NBA’s one-year requirement is a waste-when these kids so obviously would rather not be in school, either they should be allowed to turn pro straight from high school, or if not should be staying in college for three years-and the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate is a joke when it applies no penalty at all for behavior by schools who have absolutely no intention of getting their players to graduation.
The Wildcat Seven were not the only notables to declare for the draft on Thursday. Also on his way, to no surprise, is Duke center Jahlil Okafor. A consensus All-American as a freshman, Okafor averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game this year. Okafor’s game has been broken down quite well all season-he’s a load inside offensively, weak defensively and not a great shooter-so will be interesting to see how it translates to the pros.
Another player on his way to the draft is UTEP’s Vince Hunter, who averaged 14.9 ppg and 9.2 rpg this year for the Miners. Hunter showed flashes of dominance this year but also disappeared at times, was in foul trouble way too much and was part of a team that was maybe the most talented in Conference USA but was no better than the league’s third-best team. In every way he seems like a player who needs another year of seasoning, and who would be a much hotter draft commodity if he could lead UTEP to at least the NCAA Tournament.
- Bobby Hurley is the new coach at Arizona State. Hurley spent the last two years at Buffalo, where he led the school to its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance this year.
- Former Illinois guard Aaron Cosby has announced he will transfer to Western Kentucky for his senior season. Cosby is another graduate transfer who will be on his third school in four seasons. He averaged 7.8 ppg and 3.6 rpg in 19 games for the Fighting Illini before being suspended for the remainder of the season, and he also averaged 12.6 ppg as a sophomore at Seton Hall in 2012-13.
- Washington sophomore guard Nigel Williams-Goss is transferring after averaging 15.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 5.9 apg. Williams-Goss was a big part of the Huskies’ 11-0 start this year and regularly played 40 minutes a night.
Florida, Old Dominion, Purdue and St. Joseph’s will make up a sneaky good field in the Mohegan Sun Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic on Nov. 21-22 in Uncasville, Conn., as that field was announced yesterday. Florida will face St. Joe’s in the first game while ODU and Purdue meet in the second semifinal.
- Finally, very sad news Friday morning, as Mount St. Joseph (Ohio) women’s basketball player Lauren Hill passed away from an inoperable brain tumor at the age of 19. Hill was an inspiration to so many this year with her determination to get on the court to play for the NCAA Division III school, which she did and was able to play in four games this year. She also started a nonprofit that has raised more than $1.5 million for cancer research. What a blessing she was to so many, even in her final days.
The Morning Dish is going to take a break from daily duty now for the rest of the offseason. We’ll be back with occasional updates as news warrants, and Hoopville also will have its conference post-mortem wrap-ups plus Phil’s recruiting coverage over the coming weeks and months. Do enjoy the offseason, and thank you as always for reading.
Have a great Friday.