When seven Cats are drafted on June 25th, they should thank the platoon system

06/05/2015 05:03 PM

LEXINGTON — Platooning wasn’t a choice for John Calipari last season.

It was a necessity.

The combination of another loaded recruiting class along with players unexpectedly returning after the 2014 championship game made platooning, as Cal likes to say, “the only way to make sure everyone eats.”

In the end, you could say things worked out okay.

Kentucky raced out to a historic 38-0 record, returned to the Final Four for the fourth time in five seasons, and send a record seven players to the 2015 NBA Draft.

At Thursday’s impromptu press conference at Memorial Coliseum, Calipari explained how the platoon system forced his players to grow outside of their comfort zones last season, preparing the seven departed Cats to succeed in the NBA.

“That was hard last year,” said Calipari. “Number one, I had never done it [before]. There were all kinds of things we were dealing with, and not just on the basketball court. You’re basically having to sell how we’re doing this and how it’s going to benefit each player, and it did.”

And you can’t argue with results.

Of the seven players who left early to declare for the draft, four are current lottery projections, including one who’s slated to be the top overall pick.

According to the draft board at NBA.com, Karl-Anthony Towns is the favorite to go No. 1 to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Right behind him in the lottery are former teammates Willie Cauley-Stein (No. 7, Denver), Devin Booker (No. 10, Miami), and Trey Lyles (No. 14, Oklahoma City).

The other three Wildcats — Dakari Johnson, Aaron and Andrew Harrison — are slated to be either late-first or second round picks, too.

“Karl-Anthony Towns got better,” said Calipari, “and now he’s projected as the No. 1 pick. Willie Cauley-Stein got better. If we had played six or seven guys, could Willie or Karl have done what they had done? I don’t know, but I do know this: We got better with the way we did it. Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Dakari [Johnson], the [Harrison] twins: They all got better.”

KSTV discussed the effects of the 2014-15 season on Friday’s show, explaining how Calipari’s impromptu platoon aided each of the seven future draft picks in becoming NBA-ready.


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