Forward/center Karl-Anthony Towns and six other Kentucky underclassmen are entering this year’s draft, as they formally announced today in a joint press conference. Towns, whom both Chad Ford of ESPN.com and Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress project as the No. 1 pick, joins center Willie Cauley-Stein, power forward Trey Lyles, shooting guard Devin Booker, center Dakari Johnson, combo guard Andrew Harrison and shooting guard Aaron Harrison in declaring for the draft. Point guard Tyler Ulis, Ford‘s 47th-ranked prospect and Givony‘s No. 88, is staying in school, as are power forward Marcus Lee and injured combo forward Alex Poythress, neither of whom was a top-60 prospect for this year’s draft.
Towns, a freshman, passed Duke center Jahlil Okafor in Ford and Givony’s rankings during the NCAA Tournament, though it still appears it’ll be a close call among the two for whichever NBA team wins the draft lottery. The 7-foot Towns averaged only 10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in 21.1 minutes per game, but it was chiefly the profoundly deep Wildcats roster that kept his numbers down.
Cauley-Stein could easily have been a second-year NBA player by now had he come out as a freshman instead of as a junior as he’s doing now. Givony has him sixth and Ford seventh in their respective rankings after he put up 8.9 PPG and 6.4 RPG in 25.9 MPG, another example of a Wildcat’s stats as a poor reflection of his talent.
Lyles is No. 18 with Ford and No. 19 with Givony after a freshman season spent in and out of the starting lineup. He put up 8.7 PPG and 5.2 RPG in 23.0 MPG. For more on Booker, Johnson, and the Harrison twins, click on their names in this sentence to see earlier reports indicating that they would declare for the draft.
The seven will collectively attempt to set a record for the most players drafted from one school in a single year. The current mark is six, shared by Kentucky in 2012 and UNLV in 1977, though the draft was an eight-round affair when UNLV pulled off its feat. The swing player would appear to be Aaron Harrison, who isn’t within the top 60 prospects in Ford’s and Givony’s rankings. Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com nonetheless hears from many around the league who believe he’ll be drafted in the second round.