Posted Apr 5 2012 8:08PM
The streamers and cellophane stars unleashed from the New Orleans Superdome rafters after Kentucky defeated Kansas in the NCAA tournament title game on Monday night had barely finished falling onto the court when reporters began asking the Wildcats about the NBA Draft.
One query stood out, given that it came in the postgame press conference and disrupted the line of questioning about the game and Kentucky coach John Calipari's insistence that he didn't need a tournament title to validate his career.
"Everybody in Charlotte and throughout the great state of North Carolina would like to know if you're considering coming out in the NBA draft," a radio reporter from Charlotte, home of the NBA's Bobcats, asked of Anthony Davis:
The consensus player of the year didn't hesitate for a second in answering.
"No, I haven't decided," he said. "Coach Cal said we have until April 29th to decide. I'm going to wait, sit down with my coach, sit down with my family, see what the best decision is for me."
Actually, the big man had his facts wrong. He's got until April 10 to make his decision, according to a new NCAA rule. That April 29 deadline is the NBA's rule. But then again, Davis won't need the extra time. Everybody knows what "the best decision" is for Davis. He's going to be the No. 1 pick in the June draft.
What a bonanza if the Bobcats, who have a 25 percent chance of winning the lottery, where able to select Davis, who was the most impactful first-year player Cal has yet coached, having surpassed the freshman accomplishments of, among others, Derrick Rose and Marcus Camby.
If Davis were the only Kentucky player headed for the draft, that would be a significant story, given his eventual top-pick status. But there's potentially an even greater story. The program made NBA/NCAA history in 2010 when five Wildcats -- John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton -- were chosen in the first round of the draft.
Depending on the decision of freshman point guard Marquis Teague, who reportedly is still pondering his options, the Wildcats might match that number of first-round picks. And senior Darius Miller will certainly get drafted as well, albeit in the second round.
If Teague does declare, two schools -- Kentucky and North Carolina -- will supply nearly a third of the first-round harvest. Four Tar Heels -- Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Harrison Barnes and Kendal Marshall -- will join the Wildcat quintet in the first round. It would have been five had freshman James Michael McAdoo declared, but he announced on April 5 he was returning for another season.
Too bad Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall got knocked out of the NCAA Tournament with a broken wrist. Had he played and the Tar Heels won their way into the title game, as most expected, the matchup against Kentucky could have been one for the ages.
NBA super scout Ryan Blake issued a short and to-the-point response when he was asked via email what players might benefit from next week's Portsmouth Invitational Tournament.
"Anyone who shows up," Blake said.
His point was well taken. There are some exceptions, but most players who are projected as second-round picks would be wise to showcase their skills at Portsmouth.
One player who comes to mind quickly is 6-foot-9 former Ole Miss combo forward Terrance Henry, who, despite having received All-SEC accolades only once in his career (second-team in 2012), has long intrigued scouts. Some mock drafts list him as a second-round pick.
The scouts love Henry's length -- even though he's a bit spindly at 210 pounds -- and his athletic ability. He's an inside-outside threat who shot just well enough from 3-point range (.347) to be dangerous and unpredictable. Henry can also make free throws.
Henry's got the athletic part covered. To make sure he gets drafted and has a chance to stick on an NBA roster, he needs to convince teams he's tough enough and that he can tighten up his decision-making. He passed for 51 assists in 33 games this season, but he racked up 113 turnovers. His rebound total (4.3 rpg) was meager.
Henry will also have to learn when to fire away from 3 and when to attack the rim, because he can definitely finish with authority. At times he settled for 3s when the more prudent move would have been to probe the defense, finding an opening and head for the basket.
"I'm not sure who all is going [to Portsmouth]," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "But of all the guys going, I would think he's got a huge opportunity to show that he can be consistent in that venue, which would be a springboard to the next step, which is [team] workouts and maybe Chicago.
"Here's a kid who came to us as a stretch four and evolved into a three/four. His perimeter skills have continued to improve. He's pretty fast, and he's long, and I think that translates into a position at the next level."
Chris Dortch is the editor of the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook.
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