Calipari expects four or five Cats to test NBA waters

Calipari expects four or five Cats to test NBA waters
UK head coach John Calipari (Source: WAVE 3 News)

(WAVE) - UK head basketball coach John Calipari fielded questions from the media via video conference on Tuesday. The Cats coach expects another spring of potential roster turnover.

“My guess is four to five guys would probably test the waters,” Calipari said. “They changed a rule, that I wasn’t on top of, that you can now declare for the draft every year you’re in college and if you choose to go back, it doesn’t hurt your eligibility. It used to be, after the second time, you had to stay in the draft. Now you can do it every time, so I don’t know how many will test the waters, we haven’t gotten to that point to talk to them, my guess is four to five of them will.”

The new rule would allow sophomore forward EJ Montgomery to go through the process again. The other Cats who could declare are junior Nick Richards, sophomore Ashton Hagans, sophomore Immanuel Quickley and freshman Tyrese Maxey.

Hagans did not make the trip for what would prove to be the Cats final game at Florida.

“Obviously he had to leave town, like everybody else, so he and I have texted back and forth,” Calipari said. “I love coaching competitors and kids that get emotional at times, it doesn’t bother me, because I get emotional. When you’re talking about a young man, who we all saw, what is going on? Why are you playing this way? You went from one turnover a game to five, for five straight games. Now he had to address internally. So, he and I are fine, I mean I love him. He’s got decisions to make, but if he chooses to go to that league, someone is getting the ultimate competitor.”

Should Hagans and Maxey leave, Quickley, the 2019-20 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year could be the Cats point guard, although he’ll get some competition from a few freshmen.

“He could, he could, and again, let me say this, what I’m so proud of of Immanuel and I told the team this,” Calipari said. “On his wall in his mirror in his bathroom in the lodge, his goal for this year was to be a starter. From that he became Player of Year as voted by the coaches, who had to play against him, Player of the Year in our league. Jamal Murray did not play but about 15% point guard, I would say Immanuel played 5-8% point guard, because the other two guys in front of him were better in pick and rolls and creating shots for their teammates. They weren’t a shot creator like he was so the team used that strength. He couldn’t guard a year ago, now all the sudden he became one of our best defenders.”

As for Quickley’s NBA decision.

“His decision is: Is this the right time?” Calipari added. “Am I ready to succeed in that league? Am I mentally ready? Which I know he is. Am I physically ready? Yeah, have I mastered my skills the way I need to? That’s the decision that he will have to come back to.”

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