NEW YORK — Former Kentucky standout and Orlando Magic rookie DeAndre Liggins believes his alma mater is better this year than it was a year ago when it reached the Final Four with himself and fellow rookie Josh “Jorts” Harrellson of the Knicks.
“Yeah, they’re more talented, they’re deeper,” the 6-foot-6 Liggins told SNY.tv prior to the Magic-Knicks game Monday at MSG. “I think they’re going to have a chance to win it all.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari has led three schools to the Final Four — Kentucky, Memphis and UMass — yet two of those (Memphis and UMass) were wiped off the books.
Liggins said it would mean something special for Calipari to finally win a national championship. The Wildcats are currently ranked No. 2 and have lost just once, to Indiana by one point on a last-second 3-pointer.
“I think it will mean a lot to him,” Liggins said of Calipari. “He’s been there, chipping away. For him to win this year would be great.”
Liggins believes the addition of Anthony Davis, the likely No. 1 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, is the key reason why this year’s incarnation of the Wildcats is better than last year’s.
In Kentucky 65-62 win over Tennessee Saturday, the 6-11 Davis finished with 18 points and had four blocks to pull within one of tying the school season record of 83.
“He’s real long, active, can block a lot of shots,” Liggins said. “He’s disruptive. He’s going to be a great player.”
As for sophomore Terrence Jones, who has been criticized by some NBA scouts and observers as inconsistent, Liggins said: “He’s gotta get better each day in practice. He’s a lot better than last year. I’m sure he’s been practicing well.”
As for his own career, Liggins came out as a junior because he said he “felt like it was time to move on.”
A defensive specialist, he has been listed as inactive 10 times and has yet to play an NBA minute.
“End of the day I’m happy I’m here,” he said. “When I get my chance I’ll be ready.”