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2011 NBA Draft primer

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The day head coach John Calipari calls one of the most important days in Kentucky basketball history is upon us again.

On Thursday, four draft-eligible Wildcats -- Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter, DeAndre Liggins and Josh Harrellson -- will anxiously await to hear their names called in the 2011 NBA Draft. The draft will take place Thursday at 7:30 p.m. from the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., live on ESPN.

You can go just about anywhere at this stage and read a ton about which team is going to pick who -- especially when it comes to Knight and Kanter -- but at this point, it's all speculation. To get you ready for Thursday night's draft, I'm going to post a few mock drafts below, the profiles of each player and a couple of quotes from Calipari on the draft.

Thursday night, I'm hoping to get in touch with a couple of guys after they get selected and should have a post or two on here. As always, we'll have a release on the front page with the basics.

Mock drafts

Scott Howard-Cooper of
3. Enes Kanter (Utah Jazz)
5. Brandon Knight (Toronto Raptors)
45. DeAndre Liggins (New Orleans Hornets)
Josh Harrellson - not drafted

Chad Ford of
3. Brandon Knight (Utah Jazz)
4. Enes Kanter (Cleveland Cavaliers)
56. DeAndre Liggins (Los Angeles Lakers)
Josh Harrellson - not drafted

Draft Express
3. Brandon Knight (Utah Jazz)
4. Enes Kanter (Cleveland Cavaliers)
DeAndre Liggins - not drafted
Josh Harrellson - not drafted
3. Brandon Knight (Utah Jazz)
4. Enes Kanter (Cleveland Cavaliers)
59. DeAndre Liggins (San Antonio Spurs)
Josh Harrellson - not drafted
3. Brandon Knight (Utah Jazz)
4. Enes Kanter (Cleveland Cavaliers)
DeAndre Liggins - not drafted
Josh Harrellson - not drafted player profiles (excerpt from each)

Brandon Knight (including video)

NBA projection: Lottery pick. Just as former John Calipari point guards Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and John Wall before him, Knight used his freshman season in college to continually evolve as a point guard. He'll continue to get better and better in the NBA and add the dimension of consistent deep shooting that his predecessors didn't have. 


Enes Kanter, despite never playing a game in college, is expected to be a top-five pick in Thursday's NBA Draft. (photo by Barry Westerman, UK Athletics) Enes Kanter, despite never playing a game in college, is expected to be a top-five pick in Thursday's NBA Draft. (photo by Barry Westerman, UK Athletics)

Enes Kanter (including video)


   * Big body, strong, long arms (7-3 wingspan)
   * Good skill level
   * Solid stroke with ability to shoot 3's when set
   * Good on block, utilizing strength and footwork
   * Solid basketball IQ and pretty crafty
   * Good rebounder


   * Good athlete, not great
   * Runs well but does not possesses average NBA-level speed
   * Can get a bit lazy and inconsistent at times
   * Ruled ineligible at Kentucky due to NCAA Amateurism rules


DeAndre Liggins (including video)

NBA projection: The word is a couple of NBA teams really like Liggins. And it only takes one. So he's got a shot of getting picked, or at least, getting a free-agent deal. And once he gets his shot, Liggins is going to be hard to cut because of his defensive skills and the intensity he brings to the court. Could become a perfect lockdown defender and all-around disruptive presence.


Josh Harrellson

NBA projection: This season, Harrellson impressed NBA scouts with his work ethic on and off the court. They were particularly intrigued by his rebounding ability, and though he didn't show it, his face-up game. Harrellson could be a pick-and-pop guy in the NBA. There's a chance he sneaks into the second round and ends up on an NBA roster, because as NBA director of scouting Ryan Blake said, "you can't coach big."


What Calipari thinks

On the Kentucky Effect ...
"There is what I call the 'Kentucky Effect.' When you play at Kentucky, you get a 20 percent bump, whether it's your draft position, your shoe contract. There is that 'Kentucky Effect.' We're on national television more than any team. We move the needle more than any team in the country. When we're on TV, people watch. That may not have been the case a few years ago, but it is now." -- from The Cats' Pause

On Liggins and Harrellson ...
"I still think (Harrellson will) get drafted, but he knew what could happen. Sometimes to get drafted late in the second round, it's better not to get drafted and then go work out for a team that you know you can make. You could end up with a team that's not a good fit for you. He can guard three positions and defend and rebound. He's proven himself. It's interesting. I've gotten some great calls on both of them. It would be a heck of a thing if all four got drafted. If they all four got drafted in the first round, I'd probably retire because there's nothing more I could do. I'd sit up in the seats and say, 'Somebody else try this.' " -- from The Cats' Pause

On where Kanter will go ...
"If I'm Cleveland, Enes is the No. 1 pick. But, a safer pick would be the kid from Duke (Kyrie Irving). That's a safer pick. That's a pick where you look at, even if doesn't do great, great, it's a good, it's Duke, it's a safe pick and all that. Neither one of them (played a lot last year). One (Irving) played 11 games and the other (Kanter) didn't play, so it's not like you're looking at one saying, 'Well, this kid played.' Enes Kanter is younger. Enes Kanter just turned 19 two weeks ago. I know people were made to believe he was 25 years old and a veteran NBA player or a professional player (but) he just turned 19. He's a beast. He creates double teams. You're going to have to have him on the boards when you're playing against him. How do we guard this guy? Who do we send to double team him? Now, he has a ways to go, but all of these young kids have a ways to go." -- from Kentucky Sports Radio 

On Knight being the least likely of the picks to fail ...
"Some people have his upside different from others, but whatever you think his upside is -- whatever it is -- he'll reach it because he's going to work and he has a mentality. Here's a kid who had a 4.0 grade-point average, had 60 college credits at Kentucky. Granted, our grade-point average for the last term was a 3.14 and we have nine players over a 3.0 last term, but he's the one that dragged us. He had a 4.0. If he had a 91 or a 92, he was upset. That's how he approaches everything. That's why he is safe. There are players in the draft you look and say, 'Boy, this kid has so much potential, I wonder if he'll every reach it.' You're not saying that about Brandon." -- from Kentucky Sports Radio

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