LEXINGTON — Based on what Kentucky coach John Calipari has heard from NBA contacts, he feels confident four of his players off the national championship teams “are locks” to be first-round picks in the NBA draft later this month.
“I have been on the phones with different people as they work out with different teams, and I am trying to see if I can figure out how this is going to play out. The good news is all six will be drafted. It’s just a matter of where they will all be drafted,” Calipari said. “I think it is pretty clear that Anthony (Davis) will be the one pick, and then from there Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist) will be next, and then I think Terrence (Jones) will be next, and then how does it play out with all the other three?”
Calipari also expects point guard Marquis Teague to go in the first round and remains hopeful that Doron Lamb and Darius Miller will, too.
“I think all three of them are in great shape. They have proven themselves. Now they have to go do it again. You have to go work out, you have to show you’re in great shape. You have to show them you are chasing something special. I believe they will,” Calipari said.
Jones might have been a lottery pick last year if he had left Kentucky. Instead, he returned for his sophomore season, won a national title and now is a possible top-10 pick.
“He is in a better position. We had a good idea of where he would have gone last year. He is in a better position. The other side of it is he knew he wasn’t ready (for the NBA last year). He helped himself. He is now mature, and he helped himself,” Calipari said.
Workouts over the next two weeks with various teams could do the same for Miller.
“Somebody called me the other day about Darius and he had a great workout. The team liked him. A lot of people like Darius based on the fact of how he played, how he sacrificed, his skill set, his size. They liked him,” Calipari said. “You are seeing teams now in the NBA that are not talking about isolations, they are talking about team.
“You see Oklahoma City, who decided to come here and work out for four days. It helped them much, wouldn’t you say? They are playing like a team, and so are San Antonio, Boston and Miami. They want to be great teams. They want players like Darius Miller who they know will be a great teammate.”
Those same NBA scouts will be looking to see how intense Miller, who sometimes was criticized even by Calipari for not playing consistently with a “high motor,” will be.
“I can’t argue with them because they’re seeing it. Are you going to believe me or your eyes? They’re going to watch him and they’re going to work him out and they’re going to either think, ‘This kid plays hard enough or he doesn’t. Does he play rough or does he not,’” Calipari said. “Now they’re going to ask me what kind of kid he is, what do I think of him but they know I’m going to brag on my guys. There’s not going to be anything else.
“But that workout is an interview. It is what it is. That’s your interview right there. You’re going to go in that gym and you’re interviewing against five other players. Is your interview better than their interview? Now they don’t care that you won a national title, that you played at Kentucky or any of that. They don’t care at all.
“They’d rather have a kid from Louisiana Tech make it because then they look like geniuses, like they found somebody. Believe me when I tell you, they’re looking for the Central Arkansas Scottie Pippen who’s the next one that they can say, ‘I found him and I can put that I evaluate better than everybody else.’ So, the Kentucky national title, everybody has seen them, it will have no effect on how they are drafted. It’s going to be in those workouts.”
Calipari said his players must now depend on their agents for advice on interviews and other things.
“What their agent should be doing is having them in workouts, having them be trained. What we’re doing here is getting them prepared for that and then they do mock interviews, what to say, what not to say,” he said. “There are times when they go into interviews and they say the wrong things and it’ll get back to me or the agent. I’ll call the agent and say, ‘Did you know that he’s not saying the right things in here? You’ve got to make sure that he understands.’ At this point, they come from being my child to now they’re 24/7 with the people that are representing them now.”