Is the NBA Lockout a Benefit for Kentucky Wildcats Basketball?


The NBA lockout for all intents and purposes won’t interfere with game play until mid-October when the preseason is scheduled to begin, yet the impact it has made on NCAA basketball began months earlier. Several players, including UK’s Terrence Jones, unexpectedly returned

to their schools for an additional year. The holdout players from the last draft will undoubtedly be taking potential draft spots for this years freshman. How this and other NBA labor issues could effect the long term plans at UK has yet to be determined.

While Kentucky lost key underclassmen Brandon Knight and DeAndre Liggins after last season, they were fortunate to retain Jones, Darius Miller, and Doron Lamb. After Kentucky’s long tournament run and the potential of their talents, keeping players of their caliber can’t be expected every year.

In today’s modern time, players must strike when the iron is hot and turn pro while still on top of scouts’ wish lists. Former North Carolina Tar Heal Tyler Hansbrough is the perfect example of when a player can stay beyond their collegiate ripening. He was a hot name after his big freshman season and some figured he would declare for the draft. Surprisingly, Hansbrough took advantage of his full eligibility and only left for the NBA once he had graduated. Four years in college left his game exposed and many doubted his pro future. Considering his experience, it is easy to understand that a player would entertain leaving early if staying seemingly reduces their chance to be a high pick.

Another issue in the NBA labor negotiations is the rule for a player’s minimum age to enter the league. It is still early in the negotiations, with no solid information to reach the public, but this could be a major change to the game of basketball. If the owner’s get their wish, the minimum player age to enter the league could increase to draftees needing to be as many as three years removed from high school. A change of this magnitude could create a college basketball renaissance.

The 2011 recruiting class for UK basketball is another star studded group for Coach John Calipari. Marquis Teague, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Kyle Wiltjer should all see significant playing time this season. But until we see how these players perform under the national spotlight no one can anticipate who would stay beyond the mandatory one season. However, if the freshman can adapt as well as the previous to classes have in Lexington, it will be difficult to silence the whispers that the players will be hearing from “sources”.

As it stands now, we do not have a clear picture as to when the lockout will end or what the outcome will be on player draft eligibility. Under the current landscape schools must hope that players will develop quickly while surrounding them with experienced role models who are willing to prolong their college days. Kentucky has been the benefactor of both of those aspects over the last two years and are optimistic on having this season make three in a row.

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