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Lot of unknowns for players, coaches about NBA draft decisions

EJ Montgomery (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Normally at this time Kentucky would hopefully be getting ready to play in the NCAA Tournament regional and then a week or two weeks from now coach John Calipari and his staff would start making inquiries with NBA personnel about individual UK players.

But now in the year of COVID-19 everything is different with the premature ending of the season and the limitations Calipari and his staff now have on even talking to their players.

“Every day—this is hour by hour, day by day. We, as a staff and as a coach, are not allowed to work our players, are not allowed to have one-on-one meetings. If we have a group meeting, we’re not supposed to talk about basketball. So now we are giving them the information from the NBA to find out where they fall at this point in time,” Calipari said earlier this week.

“Guys that have a decision to make, whether they want to stay in the draft or not, the NBA is saying, ‘We’re keeping our (draft) date the same.’ OK, well what about the combine? That is going to move, we believe. Well, what about the draft date? That will move. OK. What about bringing them to your facilities? We don’t know when that will happen or if it’ll happen.”

Calipari says the only fair thing is to give college players more time to take their name back out of the draft it they so choose and still maintain their collegiate eligibility.

“The date was always based on when the draft, when the combine (is over). Well, that’s all moving. So now I think these kids should have more time making that decision,” Calipari said. ” My worry is for guys—OK, let’s just talk they’re working out right now. If they spend two months and don’t do anything and they try to go work out for an NBA team, it ain’t going to work for them.

“So, there are no gyms, there are no health clubs unless they have a gym in their house. None of them do. Unless they have a health area, a workout area within their home. None of them do. How is this—how are we doing this? ”

Calipari says he is getting information to his players but even that is not easy now.

“I have not done a group call mainly because I have more questions than I have answers for them right now. So, most of the stuff I’m doing is texting to stay in touch. But my guess is four to five guys would probably test the waters,” Calipari said.

The good news is that there has been a rule change that I did not know about. But guess what — neither did Calipari.

“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,” Calipari said. “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.”

EJ Montgomery tested the draft last year but came back to UK. Without the rule change, if he had declared for the draft he would have had to stay in the draft. Now he can declare, get NBA evaluations of any kind he can gather or Calipari can gather for him, weigh his options and then still stay at UK for a junior year if he wants.

Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley did not test their draft stock last year but both obviously will this year. Same with Nick Richards. Freshman Tyrese Maxey is a projected lottery pick so he won’t test, he’ll just put his name in the draft and wait to see where he’s picked.

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