As sports fans, we’re all used to hearing about schools holding annual Pro Day workouts on their campuses. Pro scouts come to town to measure and time the school’s most-draftable players. It happens every winter/spring in the run-up to the NFL draft.
Well Kentucky is now going the Pro Day route for its basketball team, too. UK coach John Calipari put together a “Kentucky Combine” that brought NBA executives from about 20 different teams to Lexington yesterday. Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones, DeAndre Liggins and senior Josh Harrelson all worked out for the group. Enes Kanter — who never got his clearance from the NCAA — elected not to take part.
The NCAA has created an April 24th to May 8th window for players to test the NBA draft waters. But knowing his players couldn’t travel and miss class to work out for individual teams, Calipari scheduled a one-time, “you guys come to us” combine.
“I don’t know of any other way we can get these young people the information they need,” Calipari said. “They don’t have the time to work out for three or four teams, and we just need to know what’s out there and what’s not for them to make the decisions.”
“These are guys who are going to make decisions,” the coach added. “There’s not a bunch of scouts here.” He also knows the execs on hand will be motivated to give honest appraisals of the Wildcats’ talents.
“They’re not going to lie. There’s two ways. If they lied about, ‘We’re not taking them,’ then the kids stay in school, so they’re not going to lie. They want them to come out. If they lie to us and me, they know they won’t be welcome here. So they’re going to tell the truth.”
“I think some of (the team reps) may tell some of (UK’s players), ‘You need to stay in college, but we’ll see,” Calipari said.
NCAA rule changes — moving the water-testing window and shortening it — will likely make this UK hoops combine a one-time thing.
“What I’m doing this year will never be done again. It’s never been done before, but it’ll never be done again, because you can’t do it (with the new deadline). It would serve no purpose. It may be a one-time shot, but I think it’s good for these four.”
While many, many, many sports fans across the SEC are skeptical of Calipari and his recruiting methods — trust me, we get plenty of emails about that subject — two things must be said for UK’s coach… even by those who don’t like him:
1. He seems to always — always — have the best interest of his players at heart. You can look for ulterior motives if you like, but the man has no problem getting his guys all the info they need when it comes to the NBA. And he encourages them to get their evaluations.
2. The man is an awfully sharp guy. Whether it’s a first of its kind UK Pro Day or a local telethon to raise money for Haitian relief efforts, Calipari always manages to do things that leave others saying, “Hey, we should’ve done that.”