The Kentucky Wildcats are coming off a dream 38-2 championship season, and now they're losing all their key pieces.
As expected, all top five underclassmen are declaring for the NBA Draft held this summer. Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague are leaving the school after just one season, while Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb are leaving after just their sophomore season.
"It's been a great opportunity playing here. I'll miss this team, the way we played together. We all love each other," said Davis, who took home almost every major player of the year award and is likely the No. 1 overall pick in June's draft. "I'm just going to miss this place. We won an NCAA championship here and did a lot. We all did a lot for this school and I'm going to miss it."
"This is my lifelong dream to play in the NBA and to be doing it with these guys, we're all just making the decision together just makes it that much more special," Teague said. "I love every day knowing I played with these guys and that not being an option any more is tough to deal with. But we all decided we needed to move on, so this is something we've got to do."
The aforementioned five, plus senior sixth man Darius Miller are all expected to be drafted this June; turning Kentucky — or any Calipari program for that matter — into an express lane to the NBA. Although considered controversial by some, that's just the way 'Cal' likes it, and he's very good at selling it.
The head coach has already signed what many analysts consider the top recruiting class for 2012-13 after obtaining Nerlens Noel, who looks to be an Anthony Davis incarnate on the defensive end, and one more blue-chip prospect could still join before the end of the spring. It's tremendously likely Kentucky will be widely considered the most talented team in basketball for the third time in four years, and many of these incoming players coule be 'one-and-dones' as well.
Regardless, whomever lands on the Wildcats squad this summer will be expected to produce under major roles from the get-go. Kentucky loses 93.3 percent of their points, 94.5 percent of their rebounds and 96.2 percent of their assists with all of their 2012 departures.
Still, coach 'Cal,' is as confident as ever and is tremendously excited for his departing players.
"This is a players' first program. I said it three years ago. During the season, it's about our team. You saw it in this year's team, they were about each other," coach John Calipari said. "When the season is over, it's about moments like this."