Importance of the 2011 NBA Draft

06/23/2011 01:26 PM

There hasn’t been too much buzz about this year’s draft in the national media outlets. However, in Kentucky, this draft has great significance. It’s setting up to be a draft full of surprises.

It’s no secret that Coach Calipari has a knack for getting his players to the pros, but I don’t think anyone could’ve foreseen the NBA Draft having the potential it has this year. Coming off a year where Kentucky saw 5 first-round draft picks, not many people had high expectations for 2010-2011 Wildcats. Nonetheless, after a Final-Four run, the 2011 NBA Draft has the potential for a storybook ending. All you have to do is look at the draft hopefuls.

Brandon Knight: After an incredible year of running the team as a freshman, it’s no surprise Knight is in the draft. Add another to the list of great point guards that Coach Cal breeds in his dribble-drive offense. I will admit, though, being a near lock in the top-5 is astonishing. It wasn’t until the NCAA Tournament run that Brandon Knight showed the nation what he was capable of in such high stakes games. Of course he was solid all year, but what he did in the tournament catapulted him to where he is now. Look for him to go #3 to the Utah Jazz or fall one down to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Enes Kanter: How many coaches and programs in the nation can say they had a player, who never suited up, be a potential #1 draft pick? I’m guessing only Coach Cal and UK. Even though there was a ton of hype surrounding “Free Enes” and the NCAA’s decision to keep him off the court, listen to me when I say that his game lives up to all the hype. If only Kentucky was lucky enough to have him freed we may be hanging up banner #8. Nevertheless, Kanter’s versatility, strength, and work ethic will make him a dynamite pro. Would be awesome if he went #1 but look for him definitely in the top 5.

DeAndre Liggins: Yes, this is the same DeAndre that played off and on under Coach Gillispie and fought for minutes in Coach Cal’s first season. Anyone who watched the Cats this year knows how much DeAndre improved on and off the court. He was confident, tenacious on defense, and often times a much-needed spark on offense. He gave 100% all year, and it’s paying off for him. At 6’6’’ and athletically long, DeAndre Liggins has a legit chance for late first round. I bet very few saw this happening at the beginning of the season. What a story!

Josh Harrellson: Are you kidding me? Again, no one saw this happening, yet here we are talking about “Jorts” in the draft. After two non-existent seasons, Harrellson made the most of his last one. A solid season, a big game against Louisville, and a HUGE tournament are the reasons why everybody is wondering where “Jorts” will end up in the NBA. If you ask me, Coach Calipari’s crowning achievement to date would be if Harrellson gets drafted or finds himself on an NBA roster down the road. It shows his system can work for any player. It gives every recruit a testament of what hard work and a great coach can do for a career. Look for Josh Harrellson mid to late second round.

These four players are why the 2011 NBA Draft is going to be exciting. Maybe it’s not full of future hall-of-famers, but this draft definitely has four players that exceeded all expectations to find themselves on the cusp of their ultimate dream.

About Mark Krebs

Mark Krebs graduated cum laude from the University of Kentucky in 2010 with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management and was a three-year letterman in basketball. He proved himself to three different coaches (Smith, Gillispie, and Calipari) in his four years with the Cats and eventually earned a scholarship after three years of being a walk-on. Mark is currently splitting time between his book tour for Beyond a Dream and starring as part-time co-host on KSTV.

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