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Kentucky basketball holds its first, perhaps last, NBA combine

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Kentucky basketball holds its first, perhaps last, NBA combine

Post  BestdamnUKfanperiod on Tue May 03, 2011 7:52 am

Kentucky basketball holds its first, perhaps last, NBA combine

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Behind closed doors at the Joe Craft Center on Monday, four of John Calipari's University of Kentucky basketball players were working out for NBA personnel.

The first-ever Kentucky Combine — a two-day event for which UK invited all 30 NBA teams to watch pro prospects Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones, DeAndre Liggins and Josh Harrellson — was under way, and Calipari said it could prove particularly significant for three of his NBA hopefuls.

Knight, Jones and Liggins are underclassmen, and by Sunday they'll have to decide whether to remain in the NBA draft or withdraw their names and return to school.

“I don't know of any other way we can get these young people the information they need …,” Calipari said. “They don't have time to go work out for three or four teams. We just need to know exactly what's out there and what's not for them to make the decision.”

UK's other draft-eligible player, Enes Kanter, elected not to participate in the combine, school spokesman DeWayne Peevy said.

Liggins and Harrellson, a senior, are headed to an NBA camp in New Jersey this weekend, Calipari said, where they'll get further evaluation.

But for Knight and Jones, Calipari said, “This is it.”

“They have this, maybe have a couple meetings and then they're going to have to figure out what they're going to do,” Calipari said.

The limited window for evaluation — players aren't allowed to miss class for NBA workouts, and teams weren't permitted to view workouts until late last week when the official list of underclassmen who'd declared themselves eligible for the draft was released — necessitated the Kentucky Combine, Calipari said.

The hope is that his players will get an honest assessment this week, Calipari said, and he expected straight talk from representatives of the teams who showed up.

About 20 teams, including the Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks and Utah Jazz, were represented on Monday. Others may show up for today's second workout.

The workouts were closed to the media. UK players were not available for interviews, and NBA personnel are not allowed to discuss prospects with reporters.

But they're allowed to provide Screw to players and Calipari, and the UK coach expects honesty.

“I think some of (the team representatives) may tell some of (the UK players), ‘You need to stay in college,' ” Calipari said. “But we'll see.”

Pro day workouts are common in college football, but Calipari said that to his knowledge UK's combine is the first of its kind.

It might also be the last.

Next season the NCAA's deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the draft will be April 10, eight days after the NCAA championship game and the day before the start of the spring signing period for high school seniors.

Calipari said he's opposed to the new deadline, which will allow even less time for players to be evaluated before they decide whether to remain in the draft.

“What I'm doing this year (with the combine) will never be done again,” Calipari said. “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.”

Brett Dawson can be reached at (859) 523-0706.
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