LEXINGTON, Ky. – There may never have been a college basketball game played with as many potential NBA players as No. 1 Kentucky’s thrilling 73-72 victory over No. 5 North Carolina Saturday at Rupp Arena.
The teams feature at least six lottery picks, as many as 10 future first-round picks and possibly a couple of second-rounders.
I spoke to ESPN’s Chad Ford after the game for a breakdown on a few key guys:
**Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Fr. F., Kentucky
The 6-7 Gilchrist shrugged off a dislocated shoulder in the first half, popped it back in and was a major offensive factor with his relentless drives to the basket. He finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds for his first career double-double.
Ford’s Take: “I thought Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was the most impressive because A) the defense, and B) he got a little bit more going offensively than I think people give him credit for. He got to the rim a couple of times. He hit some big shots. Teams have always loved his motor, his leadership. Obviously, he has the physical tools to get it done. But when you see him contributing offensively the way he did, then you can get really excited bout it.
“I think he’s a lottery pick. The question is, if he can really get it going offensively, how high can a player like that go?”
**Anthony Davis, Fr. F, Kentucky
Coming off a near triple-double of 15 points, 15 boards and 8 blocks Thursday against St. John’s, the 6-10 Davis got off to a slow start. But he finished with 7 point, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks, none bigger than his game-winning swat of John Henson’s 12-foot jumper in the final seconds.
Ford’s Take: “In the first half I thought it was the first time I’d seen him all season where he wasn’t impacting the game. It’s not scoring or whatever. He was just a little bit invisible out there and of course he comes back in the second half and makes some incredible plays.”
Is there any way Davis is not the No. 1 overall pick?
“If he tears his ACL,” Ford said. “He would have to regress dramatically. You see he’s such a unique player out there. Even when he blocks the shot by Henson, and he may be the only player in America that can do it, he gets his own rebound and doesn’t just swat it out of bounds. there’s a certain sort of Bill Russell-ness to that.”
**Terrence Jones, So. F, Kentucky
The knock on the 6-9 Jones is his consistency, but he had a solid game overall, finishing with 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals.
Ford’s Take: “His best comp[arison] was sort of Lamar Odom in the first half. He was getting to the basket, shot a 3, made a 3. In the second half, he looked like his more unfortunate comp, Antawn Jamison. He was out on the perimeter more, shooting those long-range shots. But it’s classic Terrence Jones. The first half he looks like a Top 5 pick in the DRaft, the second half he didn’t score a point.”
** Doron Lamb, So. G, Kentucky
After shifting to the point, the Queens native came up huge down the stretch, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers in the final 5:31 to extend a 63-62 lead to 69-64. He finished with 14 points and 4 rebounds.
Ford’s Take: “I think he can be a late first-rounder because of the way he shoots the basketball. He can shoot the basketball. He’s a good athlete. He can score, can even play a little point.”
**Marquis Teague, Fr. G., Kentucky
Of all the Kentucky starters, Teague struggled the most, finishing with 7 points on 3 of 11 shooting and ultimately getting replaced at the point by Lamb.
Ford’s Take: “If there’s a player I wonder a little bit about, it’s Marquis Teague. I don’t worry about him long term, but the maturity to run the point, which is the hardest thing to do in the NBA and he’s struggling to do it as a freshman here and that’s understandable….He would be so much better staying in Kentucky another year and really getting comfortable running the point because if he comes to the NBA with those point skills he may never get off the bench.”
**Harrison Barnes, So. F, North Carolina
After opting to stay on campus for his sophomore season, the 6-8 Barnes flirted with foul trouble and wasn’t able to make a huge impact down the stretch, finishing with 14 points on 5 of 12 shooting and just 2 rebounds.
Still, one veteran NBA scout called him a “top three pick” and the most complete player in college basketball.
**John Henson, Jr. F, North Carolina
The 6-11 Henson was rejected in the finals seconds by Davis, where he would probably get that shot off against almost every other player in America. He tallied 10 points, 8 boards and 3 block and is projected as a lottery pick.
“Davis and Henson have the longest arms in college basketball,” the veteran NBA scout said.
**P.J. Hairston, Fr. G, North Carolina
Despite a sprained left wrist, the 6-5 Hairston knocked down 3 of 4 3-pointers and finished with 11 points. Ford believes he could come out this year.
Ford’s Take: “NBA guys love him because obviously he’s got the body. He can shoot the basketball. He’s got an NBA body. He would be the starting two guard on virtually any team in college basketball. He’s not going to be on North Carolina. But he would be averaging 18 points a game somewhere else….He’s used to being the stud on his team his whole life but now he’s coming off the bench. He’s got a good attitude. He’s playing hard and he’s playing well.”