John Calipari says Kentucky might lose seven players to NBA draft

John Calipari says Kentucky might lose seven players to NBA draft
Kentucky Coach John Calipari looks on after the Wildcats' 71-64 loss to Wisconsin on Saturday in the Final Four. (Joe Robbins / Getty Images)

Kentucky Coach John Calipari said Monday he might lose more than half a dozen players to the NBA draft.

"We could lose seven guys," Calipari said. "Seven is a definitely possibility."


Calipari made his comments at a downtown news conference after his election to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Calipari said he got lucky this season when several players, notably Willie Cauley-Stein and twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison opted to return.

That forced Calipari to blend those players with a new bumper crop of freshmen recruits.

Calipari skillfully used a platoon system to lead Kentucky to a 38-0 record before Saturday's loss to Wisconsin in a national semifinal game.

"We showed the rest of the world you can play that way and win," Calipari said.

Calipari says he expects Cauley-Stein, a junior, to enter the draft along with the sophomore Harrisons.

Freshman forward Karl-Anthony Towns, who could be the top overall pick, and forward Trey Lyles are also likely to leave early.

Still on the fence are sophomore Dakari Johnson and freshman Devin Booker.

"There's not going to be any brainwashing, forcing, pushing either in or out," Calipari said of his influence over their decisions.

He said he did tell a couple players of the NBA that "that it's a man's league, not a child's league."

Calipari will have to rebuild his team around point Tyler Ulis and probable returners Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee.

Calipari has been a master at manipulating the "one-and-done" rule forced upon college basketball by the NBA and its players assn.

Heavy losses this year, though, could test Calipari's recruiting skills.

"Now, it's how do you field a team?" he said. "You've got to have a layup line."


Calipari may be exaggerating just a tad. To be clear, Kentucky is expected to field a basketball team next season.

Mike Krzyzewski rolls on

Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski won his fifth NCAA title and continued his assault on the record books.

Monday's win improved his all-time record to 1,018-310 and his record at Duke to 945-251.

His record in the NCAA tournament is 88-26 and he improved his all-time record to 5-4 in championship games.

Feeling at home

Is it something in the water? Duke won its third NCAA title in Indianapolis.

"There's something here that's magical," Krzyzewski said. "I don't know. And I don't know what it is, but it's here. We've done well here."

Comparing defeats

Wisconsin lost a heartbreaker to Kentucky in last year's tournament, losing on a jump shot by Aaron Harrison with 5.7 seconds left.

"This one's worse," Wisconsin junior forward Sam Dekker said of Monday night's loss to Duke. "I knew what we had coming back, and I knew that our group was going to make it to this point.

"This is what we wanted. We wanted to be in this game and win this game. We just came up short."

Jahlil Okafor praises Duke teammate Grayson Allen

Duke star Jahlil Okafor said he wasn't surprised with backup guard Grayson Allen's performance in Monday's win.

Allen, who averages four points per game, scored 16 in the victory.

"He put us on his back and put us in a position to win," Okafor said. "We all knew how good he was. He is always one of the best players in practice everyday. He never takes practice off and is one of our hardest workers."

Okafor, a freshman, said he was not ready to announce whether he will declare for the NBA draft.

Many think Okafor could be the No.1 overall pick.

"I love Coach K and I haven't even thought about that yet," he said. "I just can't wait to celebrate."