Basketball Cats may lose as many as 8 players, including 5 underclassmen

By: Steve Moss
By: Steve Moss

UK coach John Calipari is looking for a few good men. Five to six, to be exact. That's how many players Cal says he expects to sign for the upcoming season. Calipari made the comments on his call-in show this week on the Big Blue Radio Network. Five to six players you might ask?

UK coach John Calipari is looking for a few good men.  Five to six, to be exact.

That's how many players Cal says he expects to sign for the 2010-2011 basketball season.  Calipari made the comments on his call-in show this week, which airs on the Big Blue Radio Network.

Five to six players you might ask?  

We now know why the coach is targeting that many. 

Already, three seniors have departed -- Perry Stevenson, Ramon Harris and Mark Krebs exit.  Patrick Patterson went through Senior Day ceremonies and is expected to make the jump to the NBA.  Depending upon which mock draft you check, John Wall probably could be the first or second pick in the NBA Draft.  DeMarcus Cousins is rumored to be a lottery pick.

Players at the McDonald's All-American game in Columbus tell me that Calipari is using the departures as a sales pitch for the Big Blue.  They say Calipari has informed them that Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton also will leave for the NBA.

That's five underclassmen, eight players in all, who won't be back next season.

C.J. Leslie, a 6-foot-7 McDonald's All-American and a former high school teammate of Wall's at Word of God in Raleigh, says UK is on his top list of schools. 

"There's five guys making the jump, as far as I know," Leslie said on Tuesday.  "Coach Cal has already told me it's open.  Just got to get me in there."

Doron Lamb, another player in Columbus, is a 6-foot-4 guard from Oak Hill.  Lamb says Calipari told him the same thing. 

"He told me that there would be nine spots open next year," Lamb said.  "He told me Daniel Orton and (Eric) Bledsoe are going pro after this year."

Knight, Jones, Selby eying the Cats

Three other burger boys are keeping tabs on the Wildcats and possible roster changes.

Brandon Knight, Terrance Jones and Josh Selby  each said UK is actively involved, and that they will closely watch Kentucky's player movement. 

Brandon Knight is the undisputed king of the Class of 2010.  The national player of the year lists UK, Florida, Kansas and UConn as the finalists for his services.  Knight is rumored to have committed to Calipari, but says he's waiting until the April signing period to possibly make an official announcement.

Knight let slip a hint at where he could end up in college.  When asked about the possibility that five UK underclassmen were leaving, Knight said, "Those guys came in and changed the program around.  I feel like if we have a good group of guys come, we'd also change the program."  

Of course, Knight quickly corrected himself, saying "if I come there..."

Jones is a 6-foot-7 forward out of Portland and lists the Cats as one of his top schools, along with Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington and UCLA.  Jones said Jennifer O'Neil, a UK signee and the school's first McDonald's All-American, is hanging out with Knight and is recruiting Jones to UK.

Selby goes 6-foot-2 and won the McDonald's slam dunk contest.  He lists UK, UConn, Kansas and Arizona as his final four.  Selby credits Calipari with doing a great job with UK's fabulous class of freshmen and says he could co-exist with Knight, should they both decide to play in Lexington.

Selby also admitted being a "one and done" appealed to him.  He noted it's every kid's dream to play in the NBA.  Which school did he associate with "one and dones?" 

UK, of course.

The McDonald's All-American Game is Wednesday night in Columbus. 

Those are the highlights... Stay tuned.

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