If you’re a top-flight high school basketball player with aspirations of playing NBA hoops – and doing it well – Lexington, KY is the only place you want to be.
You want to be a Kentucky Wildcat, coached by the Hall of Famer John Calipari.
Not only does Calipari sell blue chip recruits on winning a title at the collegiate level, he can brag about his ability to get players to and prepared for the NBA in a very expeditious manner.
In total, there are 20 Kentucky alumni that are playing in the NBA – with a majority of them already reaching or approaching stardom.
Most of the 20 are Calipari recruits, but a few veterans from the Tubby Smith era mix for an insanely deep group. At the top, you have championship contenders. Down low, you still have a shit ton of skill. It’s almost scary.
So I split up Kentucky’s NBA army into four different starting fives, tiered by their current NBA prowess. And at the end, we put together what a potential 12-man (regulation roster size) team of Kentucky alumni would look like.
Eric Bledsoe, 26
Anthony Davis, 22
DeMarcus Cousins, 25
Karl-Anthony Towns, 20
John Wall, 25
Where do I start?
Maybe with the eight combined All-Star appearances between Davis, Cousins, and Wall in only five short NBA seasons.
Or maybe with Bledsoe, who has turned into one of the top young NBA scorers when healthy for the Phoenix Suns. Or maybe Karl-Anthony Towns, who has the makings of the next big thing in the NBA.
KAT-Daddy plays for the lowly Timberwolves but is the front-runner for NBA Rookie of the Year.
Sure, you “have to” play Anthony Davis at the 3, but he’s arguably the most naturally talented player in the NBA and versatile enough to swing it.
This starting five is as good or better than any starting five in the NBA right now.
Rajon Rondo, 29
Brandon Knight, 24
Nerlens Noel, 21
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 22
Julius Randle, 21
Let’s hypothesize for a moment because we have two options here. Rajon Rondo and the second squad could either be the starting five for a brand new team or play the second line to the Wall-Cousins-Davis squad and create a super team.
Let’s go with the super team route.
When Rajon Rondo is leading the second unit, you know the Kentucky alumni group is insane. Not to mention, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is one of the five best wing defenders in basketball. Brandon Knight and Julius Randle both look like they could be at an All-Star Game some year soon.
Not to mention Nerlens Noel – along with first-teamer Karl-Anthony Towns will both be featured in NBA All Star weekend’s Rising Stars Challenge.
Archie Goodwin, 21
Devin Booker, 19
Terrence Jones, 24
Enes Kanter, 23
Tayshaun Prince, 35
Line three is interesting as hell. In it, you have the youngest player in the NBA in Devin Booker and three other Kentucky alumni (Archie Goodwin, Enes Kanter, Terrence Jones) who have made waves in the league but haven’t quite established a strong foothold.
Couple the young with the old, wily veteran wing Tayshaun Prince on that frontline and this isn’t a terrible starting five in its own right.
James Young, 20
Willie Cauley-Stein, 22
Trey Lyles, 20
Patrick Patterson, 26
Jodie Meeks, 28
This is what we call the leftovers. James Young is still developing consistency but can shoot the lights out, Trey Lyles has played well in the absence of Derrick Favors, and Willie Cauley-Stein is showing he can make an impact next to Cousins in Sacramento.
Then there are the two old Tubby Smith recruits, Patrick Patterson, and Jodie Meeks. Patterson’s that guy at the gym who wears you down with fundamentals even though everyone is out there chucking. And Meeks chucks threes from half court and they still somehow go in.
Now, I’m obviously not taking this group of five onto any NBA courts anytime soon. But yeah, I’d love to round out a title squad with a few guys off this.
PG – John Wall
SG – Eric Bledsoe
SF – Anthony Davis
PF – DeMarcus Cousins
C – Karl-Anthony Towns
Bench – Rajon Rondo
Bench – Brandon Knight
Bench – Nerlens Noel
Bench – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Bench – Julius Randle
Bench – Devin Booker
Bench – Terrence Jones
There it is. A Kentucky super team. Like I said in my second tier write up, that second five players is merely Team B. They’re that good and they get next five off the bench honors.
Considering I’m playing huge on the front line I have a surplus of bigs, allowing me to snag Devin Booker as my 11th man while Houston’s Terrence Jones is the last man off the bench.
Think of this as a real life game of 2K17. And Kentucky is taking home the ship.