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Seven Wildcats Enter NBA Draft. What's Next For Kentucky?

Tyler Ulis

Tyler Ulis

Kentucky’s NBA Draft prospects left little room for drama. Seven Wildcats announced — simultaneously — that they’d head for the NBA Draft on Thursday, less than a week after their what would be their final game for Kentucky.

At this rate, it’s easier to note who will be back at Kentucky for 2015-16. Let's start with point guard Tyler Ulis, junior forward Marcus Lee and injured senior Alex Poythress.

Those three, plus an incomplete recruiting class that already ranks No. 1 in the country, is enough for a competitive team next season. Athlon Sports ranked the Wildcats No. 2 in its early top 25 for 2015-16.

The draft announcements were just one domino as John Calipari assembles his roster for 2015-16. Kentucky has three commitments for the 2015 and should add a few more blue chip prospects as recruiting continues into the summer.

So how might this shake out for Kentucky next season. First, let’s take a look at the roster how it stands:

Projected starters

PG Tyler Ulis, 5-9/155, Soph.

SG Isaiah Briscoe, 6-3/200, Fr.

SF Alex Poythress, 6-8/238, Sr.

PF Marcus Lee, 6-9/220, Jr.

C Skal Labissiere 6-10/200, Fr.


G Charles Matthews, 6-6/172, Fr.

G Dominique Hawkins, 6-0/195, Jr.

F Derek Willis, 6-9/220, Jr.

That’s already a solid group that may be the favorite in the SEC. The 5-9 Ulis is not the typical Calipari point guard, both in stature and experience. He’s also mighty efficient. Despite coming off the bench, Ulis ranked 71st nationally in offensive rating on, better than anyone else on Kentucky besides Karl-Anthony Towns. Ulis led Kentucky in assist rate and assist-to-turnover ratio.

Poythress played only eight games last season due to a torn ACL. He’s standout defender on the wing who averaged 11.2 points per game as a freshman in 2012-13. Lee hasn’t been able to get regular minutes on Kentucky’s last two teams. He’s a springy forward whose claim to fame is seven offensive rebounds against Michigan in last year’s Elite Eight while Willie Cauley-Stein was injured.

Center Skal Labissiere of Memphis is the highlight of the recruiting class, and he’ll fit right into Calipari’s tradition of highly drafted big men. He’ll open the season in the discussion for the No. 1 overall draft pick, but looming NCAA issues could cost him a few games

Kentucky, of course, is in on a few major recruits. Here’s quick run down:

• Combo guard Malik Newman, a McDonald’s All-American, could play in the off guard role similar to Devin Booker, but he could produce at greater volume without a platoon system at Kentucky next season. He’s also considering Mississippi State, LSU and Kansas. Newman’s father, Horatio Webster, played basketball at Mississippi State.

• Forward Jaylen Brown has as many as eight schools on his final list, which he announced Tuesday. He’s the No. 2 prospect in the class behind LSU’s Ben Simmons, according to

• Power forward Thon Maker is a seven-footer from Toronto looking to reclassify to the 2015 class. His recruitment has been a bit bizarre.

• Center Stephen Zimmerman is another McDonald’s All-American big man who is considering Kentucky, UCLA, Arizona, Kansas and UNLV (Zimmerman goes to Las Vegas Bishop Gorman).