Seven Kentucky players, Duke's Jahlil Okafor leaving early for NBA

Duke's Jahlil Okafor, as expected, will join seven Kentucky players as draft eligibles

A record seven players are leaving a Kentucky team after a season that fell two wins short of a championship. They can look forward to a possible reunion in a couple of months at the NBA draft.

The soon-to-be-former Wildcats gathered at their practice gym and said they will turn pro: 7-footers Willie Cauley-Stein and Dakari Johnson, twin guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison, freshman forwards Karl-Anthony Towns and Trey Lyles and freshman backup guard Devin Booker.

The exodus, which featured Kentucky's top seven scorers, could have been even greater.

"If Alex Poythress doesn't get hurt, it would've been eight," Coach John Calipari said, referring to the junior forward who sustained a season-ending torn knee ligament in December.

Also going pro, as expected, is Duke freshman Jahlil Okafor, a 6-foot-11 All-American who could be the top pick in the draft.

"As early as I can remember, I've fantasized and dreamed of the day that I could play professional basketball," Okafor said in a statement issued by the school three days after the Blue Devils won the NCAA title.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski called it a "great decision."

Okafor averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds and shot 66% — all team bests — and became the first freshman in Atlantic Coast Conference history to be named league player of the year. He also led the team with a 15-point average during the NCAA tournament.

Okafor becomes Duke's sixth one-and-done player and its fourth in five years, with the most recent additions to that club being Kyrie Irving, Austin Rivers and Jabari Parker. There could be more: Two of Okafor's classmates — Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones, the most outstanding player at the Final Four — also are serious candidates to jump to the pros.


Arizona State has hired Bobby Hurley as its basketball coach. The 43-year-old Hurley spent the past two years as the head coach at Buffalo, where he led the Bulls to 23 wins and an NCAA tournament berth this past season. He replaces Herb Sendek, who was fired March 24 after nine seasons. ... Hawaii filled its head coaching vacancy with Eran Ganot, a former assistant coach with the Rainbow Warriors and most recently the associate head coach at St. Mary's. Ganot, 33, inherits a troubled program. The former coach, Gib Arnold, was fired in late October, just weeks before the season was set to start, amid NCAA allegations.

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