Every underclassman on the University of Kentucky basketball team will enter the NBA draft but retain college eligibility, coach John Calipari said Wednesday in a stream of tweets (See all nine Twitter links from Calipari right here). That means 14 Wildcats plus Alex Poythress, the only senior on the Kentucky roster, will be eligible to work out for NBA teams and participate in the NBA combine, taking advantage of new rules that allow prospects to gauge their draft stock until May 25th, the deadline for players to pull out of the draft if they want to remain eligible for college ball. The players would forfeit their college eligibility if they hire agents, so presumably they’ll hold off on doing so.
Calipari’s announcement shows the player-friendly side of the rules changes, which leave NBA teams in the dark about just who’ll be in the draft until that May 25th deadline. Previously, college players had to choose whether to enter the draft or return to college in April, before workouts and the combine.
Several among the Wildcats entering the draft figure to stay in, with freshman combo guard Jamal Murray leading the way as the No. 4 prospect in Chad Ford’s ESPN.com rankings and as No. 7 on Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress list. He’ll battle Providence junior Kris Dunn, who’s declaring for the draft and hiring an agent, to become the first point guard taken, though Murray played off the ball much of the time this season, deferring to Tyler Ulis. Murray led the Wildcats with 20.0 points per game and also pulled down 5.2 rebounds per contest despite standing only 6’5″.
Freshman center/forward Skal Labissiere, who began the season as the No. 1 prospect on Givony’s board, is now No. 10 and checks in 15th with Ford. He struggled this year, floating in and out of the starting lineup and averaging only 6.6 points and 3.1 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per contest.
Isaiah Briscoe, a freshman combo guard, also has a legitimate shot to be drafted, coming in 75th with Ford and 80th with Givony, while Poythress, a combo forward and the lone senior on the team, is No. 77 in Ford’s rankings and No. 90 in Givony’s.
Guards Jonny David, E.J. Floreal, Dominique Hawkins, Charles Matthews, Mychal Mulder and Dillon Pulliam and forwards Isaac Humphries, Marcus Lee, Derek Willis and Tai Wynyard comprise the rest of the Wildcats, who lost to Indiana in the second round of the NCAA Tournament this past weekend.