April 18, 2012
Kentucky's starting lineup of three freshmen and two sophomores did most everything together en route to the school's eighth national title. Now, they will each go their separate ways in the NBA.
Freshmen Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague, and sophomores Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb declared for the draft in a nationally televised news conference Tuesday night.
"Let me just say that Anthony and Doron and Terrence have decided to put their names in the NBA draft, so they will do that," coach John Calipari said, pausing for a dramatic effect. "And Michael and Marquis Teague have also decided to put their names in the draft.
"I was trying to scare some coaches out there, that's all I was doing."
The group, all clad in similar blue UK golf shirts, came into the season largely untested before ascending to No. 1, winning the Southeastern Conference in dominating fashion and capping an NCAA tournament run with a 67-59 victory over Kansas in the title game.
The five join seniors Darius Miller and Eloy Vargas leaving the program.
"This is a players' first program," Calipari said. "I said it three years ago. During the season, it's about our team. You saw it in this year's team, they were about each other. "When the season is over, it's about moments like this."
The departures mean only freshman Kyle Wiltjer remains from the rotation with a new class of highly touted recruits joining Calipari next season. Calipari said he had never watched the final game of a season until this one.
"I'm just proud of them," Calipari said. "And I'm proud to say I was able to spend a year with them, well two, maybe three or four with a couple."
Wiltjer and the rest of the bench made up just 6 percent of the total minutes played this season, but he'll quickly be getting help as Calipari closes in on his fourth straight No. 1 recruiting class.
Kentucky already signed Willie Cauley, Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin in the early period. Top prospect Nerlens Noel committed to the Wildcats on national television last week by shaving the school's initials in the back of his signature flat top hairstyle.
The team is in the hunt for a few of the remaining top prospects who have until May 16 to make their final decisions.
All of Kentucky's new players will be thrust into major roles because with the departures, the Wildcats will lose 93.3 percent of their points, 94.5 percent of their individual rebounds and 96.2 percent of their assists.