UK prospects declare for 2012 draft during April vacation

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UK prospects declare for 2012 draft during April vacation

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

LEXINGTON, KY -- Kentucky prospects Marquis Teague, Mike Gilchrist, Anthony Davis and Kyle Wiltjer are heading to the NBA. All are five-star prospects and three rank in the top 10 in the country. The school announced Wednesday all four high schoolers -- future Wildcats -- have declared for the 2012 draft.

"The time to declare just seemed right," said Teague. "I don't have much homework right now because of April vacation."

The news came just hours after freshmen Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight and junior DeAndre Liggins threw their names into this year's draft. None have signed agents, so they can return to school next fall if they change their mind by May 8.

That will never happen; this is Kentucky.

SI.com projects Jones and Knight as mid-to-high first-round picks. Liggins, a defensive specialist, could go in the first round.

The trio helped the Wildcats to their first Final Four appearance in 13 years this spring. It was an effort that some fans are calling "a tease."

"All season long coach has been tutoring me on the fine points of being a point guard," Knight said, "in the NBA."

Calipari encouraged all three players to test their prospects but added he would "would love the opportunity to continue to coach them again next season."

Nobody who has ever had contact with or has read anything about Calipari believes that.

Freshman guard Doron Lamb will come back next fall. Lamb commented that he hopes the incoming freshman class next season will help ease his loneliness. As for the fact that the four recruits have already declared for the 2012 draft: "I just try not to think about it," the less talented Lamb said before running out of the room.

The guard's return is a bright spot for he program. His status marks an increase in returning players after only one year. John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton all left for the pros last year after just one season on campus. So, yeah, one guy back is better than zero.

Hall of Fame coach Bobby Knight criticized Kentucky for promoting the "one-and-done" culture over the weekend. He released an apology via ESPN on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he described himself as "totally bullshit."

From a new statement: "This 'one-and-dones' stuff is out of control. I made it personal to Kentucky and its players the other day for a reason and everybody jumped on my ass. Well, look who's right after all. If you think I'm apologizing again, you're out of your goddamn mind. Somebody find me a chair. Or Neil Reed."

Top 10 prospect Anthony Davis exploded onto the national scene during the spring of his junior year. The 6'10", 22 lb power forward garnered immediate interest from Ohio State and Syracuse, but both teams randomly fell off the map after July's evaluation period.

Calipari and his assistants were seen dressed in all black at practically every game Davis played during the summer. They carried large sacks of money, as well as swords and crossbows.

The unlawful and painful recruiting effort paid off in August when Davis committed to Kentucky. Early reports suggested that Davis "felt really bad" about the bloodshed and "didn't want anyone else to get hurt" on his behalf.

Insinuations and rumors of recruiting violations were reported by the Chicago press, but nothing was proven. In a completely coincidental event, writer Michael O'Brien's body was recently found in The Chicago River.

After knee injury, Beleskey set to return for Bruins vs. Blackhawks

After knee injury, Beleskey set to return for Bruins vs. Blackhawks

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins, looking for a spark after terrible, back-to-back losses to the New York Islanders and Detroit Red Wings, are hoping the return of Matt Beleskey from a knee injury can help provide the inspiration. 

The blue-collar left winger has missed the past 23 games with a torn MCL in his right knee suffered in early December against the Buffalo Sabres, but now he’s easing back into the lineup on the fourth line in Friday night’s showdown with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Beleskey was skating with Dominic Moore and Austin Czarnik on the fourth line at morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena and should be expected to throw a few hard hits and play with some intensity in his return.

“I’m ready to go and excited to get back out there,” said Beleskey, who has been skating with the team for roughly a week after giving the knee sufficient time to heal. “I’ve just got to keep it simple and do what I do well: Be hard on pucks, take the body and just try and find your groove. You don’t want to expect too much in your first game back, but you just want to be able to contribute.

“’I’ve been saving [the pent-up energy] for a while, so I’m ready to get back out there and hopefully provide a spark for us.”

The Beleskey return also provides the player with a bit of a reset button after a slow start to the season that saw him with two goals and five points along with a minus-6 rating in 24 games played for the Black and Gold prior to his injury. Here are the projected line combos and D-pairs against the Blackhawks based on morning skate today:

Marchand-Bergeron-Vatrano

Schaller-Krejci-Pastrnak

Spooner-Nash-Backes/Hayes

Beleskey/Blidh-Moore-Czarnik

 

Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Morrow-Liles

 

Rask

Thomas on not getting All-Star start: 'It hurts but I’ll be all right’

Thomas on not getting All-Star start: 'It hurts but I’ll be all right’

WALTHAM, Mass. –  Isaiah Thomas stood before the media throng on Friday afternoon at the Celtics’ practice facility and answered all the questions with the usual truthful tone sprinkled with a bit of humor.
 
But you could sense that he was still bitter about the results announced by the NBA on Thursday as to who will be the starters in next month’s All-Star Game.
 
Cleveland’s LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee and Chicago’s Jimmy Butler were the frontcourt starters announced by the league. In the backcourt you will find Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, who finished in a tie with Thomas in this first season in which fans, media and players all have a say in who will be the game’s starting five, as opposed to past seasons in which the starters were chosen strictly by fans.
 
DeRozan and Thomas finished in a tie under the voting system, but DeRozan moved ahead of Thomas due to a tie-breaker (fan vote), in which DeRozan had about 41,000 more votes than Thomas.
 
“It’s not the end of the world; it’s all good,” said Thomas. “I was disappointed, but those guys deserve it as well. I did everything I could in my control to put myself in position to be a starter. It’s not the end of the world.”
 
Especially knowing that the coaches will vote him on to the team for the second year in a row.
 
But for Thomas to be even in the conversation speaks to how the league’s new system of choosing All-Star starters, makes the whole choosing of starters about more than just a popularity contest, which is the irony of Thomas being left off the starting five – it ultimately came down to DeRozan receiving more votes from fans than Thomas.
 
“I didn’t really look at it. I didn’t look at what the reason was, but it is what it is,” Thomas said. “I’ll use it as motivation. I have to get better. That’s all I took out of that. I’m not where I want to be.”
 
Thomas finished fourth in fan voting for the starting nod, but was second among players and first among Eastern Conference guards among the media.
 
“I appreciate everybody who voted for me, especially you [media] guys,” Thomas said. “The media showed me some love and then my peers showed me love too.”
 
But as far as coming so close to being an All-Star starter and not making it, Thomas said, “It hurts but I’ll be alright. I’ll use it as motivation and keep going.”
 
Thomas is having a banner season that has elevated his name and game into the conversation for the league’s MVP award that so far is being led by Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook.
 
He averages 28.7 points per game, which is tops among Eastern Conference players and fourth overall. 

Among his more notable accomplishments this season, he scored a franchise-record 29 points in the fourth quarter of a win over Miami, and in the same game, wound up scoring a career-high 52 points.
 
Thomas isn’t the only NBA player who has had a season that most would believe would result in him being an All-Star starter.
 
“You look in the west, [Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook] averages a triple-double and he didn’t get in [to start],” Thomas said. “I guess…I’ll let everybody debate for me and argue for me. Those guys that made it who start, they deserved it.”