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What UK men's basketball could look like next year

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4380081.jpegJohn Calipari hinted at it last week and Wednesday it became a reality: Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones and DeAndre Liggins have declared for the NBA Draft. None of the three will sign with agents and all could return next season if they withdraw their names from the draft by May 8.

On Tuesday, freshman guard Doron Lamb announced he will return to UK for his sophomore season.

The full details of their decisions can be found in the release on the homepage. Since those basic details are already there, I wanted to take the decisions a step further and look at what next year's team could look like.

First, let's start by saying that this is all hypothetical with no inclination of what any of the three will do. This outlook is only a worst-case scenario from a roster perspective in terms of losses.

So, let's say all three guys - Knight, Jones and Liggins - decide to stay in the draft. In addition to the departure of senior Josh Harrellson, Kentucky would lose 1,869 points of its 2,845 total output from last year. That comes out to 65.7 percent of the scoring. The Cats would also lose 63.5 percent of its total minutes played last year.

While that's a hefty chunk of the scoring load, it's actually a manageable hit compared to what UK lost after the 2009-10 season.

After losing five players to the NBA and four more to graduation or roster defection, Kentucky bid farewell to 2,609 of its 3,012 total points after the 2009-10 season. That comes out to 86.6 percent of the scoring load. A total of 81.6 percent of the minutes played in 2009-10 left.

(It makes you kind of wonder how in the world UK was able to get to the Final Four this year.)

The silver lining is that, while Kentucky could potentially lose three very important parts from this past season, Calipari has proven it's possible to replace players and move on. UK will actually be in much better shape this next season because Lamb and Darius Miller, the team's top two 3-point shooters in terms of percentage, will return no matter what.

Add that to the nation's No. 1 recruiting class and something tells me UK is going to be just fine next year. Most national analysts are already touting Kentucky as next year's preseason No. 2 team in the country.

Here is a look back at how UK's starting lineup has looked over the past few years and what it could look like next year:

2008-09 starting lineup
Michael Porter
Jodie Meeks
Ramon Harris
Perry Stevenson
Patrick Patterson
Sixth man: Darius Miller

2009-10 starting lineup
John Wall
Eric Bledsoe
Darius Miller
Patrick Patterson
DeMarcus Cousins
Sixth man: DeAndre Liggins

2010-11 starting lineup
Brandon Knight
Terrence Jones
DeAndre Liggins
Darius Miller
Josh Harrellson
Sixth man: Doron Lamb

2011-12 projected starting lineup
Marquis Teague
Doron Lamb
Michael Gilchrist
Darius Miller/Kyle Wiltjer
Anthony Davis
Sixth man: Kyle Wiltjer/Darius Miller

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Yo, dude, Darius just declared for the NBA draft. So his return isn't so automatic after all.

Darius Miller did not declare for the draft, it was a joke, at the end of the msg it says " my xbox season"

Yea he said on his ex-box!!!

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  • Sam: Yea he said on his ex-box!!! read more
  • John Gilbert: Darius Miller did not declare for the draft, it was a joke, at the end of the msg it says read more
  • Garrfish: Yo, dude, Darius just declared for the NBA draft. So his return isn't so automatic after all. read more