The hardest thing that comes with writing articles that follow a loss in the National Championship game is how much the loss hurts. The question that many fans will ask now is how many players will be one and done?
During the postgame press conference, Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari was asked about when he would start discussing the draft with his players. Of course, it won’t come up until now with the season being over. Cal alluded to it not being about the program anymore but about the players.
“These kids really fought and tried and what they accomplished, I told them, this was the best group I’ve ever coached as far as really being coachable and wanting to learn,” Calipari said at the podium. “I’ve never coached a team this young. Never. Hope I don’t ever again. I think all these kids are coming back, so we should be good.”
It’s not that simple. Cal will give the players and families the information that they want, of course.
“But now that the season’s over, it is about the players,” Cal stressed. “It’s no longer about the program. It’s no longer about the team. It’s about each individual player on this team now. They sacrificed. They surrendered to each other now, for our team and our program and our school. Season’s over. Now it’s about them. And we’ll sit down with each of them and they will make decisions for themselves.”
Looking at the roster, the three seniors next year are all walk-on players. Kyle Wiltjer would have been the fourth senior but he transferred following last season.
I think Julius Randle is as good as gone. It’s always possible that James Young or the Harrison twins come back for a second season. Willie Cauley-Stein is a borderline first round draft pick and could easily come back for his junior season. Alex Poythress will be a junior next season assuming he comes back.
The thing to remember is that players drafted in the second round have to fight to make the team. There’s no guaranteed contract. Moreover, even players selected in the low first round are not even guaranteed of cracking the rotation even if they do get a guaranteed contract.
If it were up to me or most of Big Blue Nation, this group of freshmen comes back for another year. Many of us are growing tired of the roster turning over en mass year in and year out due to the one and done era of college basketball. How many people even stopped to think that this would have been the junior season for all those freshman that were drafted in June 2012.