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Booker: BFF Tyler Ulis supports decision to enter draft

Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis came to Kentucky as a duo. They will leave as solo acts with Booker’s announcement Thursday that he will enter this year’s NBA Draft.
“Tyler wanted me to do what’s best for myself,” Booker said. “Everybody knows we’re going to be best friends for life. That’s how that’s going to be. Me moving on, that’s not going to change anything, really.
“But I’d love to play with him more. I’ll be on the court with him again.”
Booker said he told Ulis of his decision to enter the draft earlier this week. Ulis offered encouragementn4. “Like, ‘I’m proud of you’ and ‘Just keep grinding,'” Booker said.
Ulis and several other UK players attended the joint announcement thursday in which seven players from UK’s 2014-15 team said they would enter this year’s NBA Draft.
Booker predicted that Ulis and Kentucky will be good next season.
“You’re going to see special things out of Tyler this year,” he said. “I mean, next year, he’s going to be a real special player.
“The recruiting class they’re bringing in, they’re going to be a really good team again.”

Andrew on 2 UK seasons: ‘I had enough’

After announcing his intention to enter this year’s NBA Draft, Andrew Harrison noted how playing for Kentucky helped prepare him for the unforgiving world of professional basketball.
When asked about entering this year’s draft rather than last year’s draft, Harrison said, “I feel I’m just ready as a person and a player. And I feel I’m prepared for anything they throw at me. Two years here, you’re ready for anything.”
Harrison noted the scrutiny that comes with playing for Kentucky. That’s especially true when you’re a point guard, and even more true when the team struggles, as it did in 2013-14 before this past season of historic achievement.
Harrison acknowledged he was not ready for the scrutiny when he arrived as a freshman in 2013.
“I really wasn’t,” he said. “I had a chip on my shoulder. When you take all the scrutiny, when you are the scapegoat of the team . . . it affects your play. But, now, becoming older and wiser, you realize it’s part of the game.”
That ability to put criticism in perspective took time.
“When you feel you’re the scapegoat and people are just picking on you, it’s tough,” Harrison said. “It’s fine, now. You mature, and you get over it.”
Harrison could have put his name in the 2014 NBA Draft.
“I actually wanted to stay,” he said. “I wanted to stay and enjoy college one more year and be a kid one more year.”
When asked if he wanted to be a kid one more year and return Kentucky next season, Harrison said, “Nah. I’m good, now. I had enough.”

Aaron, Andrew exhibit no signs of separation anxiety

In all likelihood, the NBA Draft will separate Aaron and Andrew Harrison for the first time. The twins suggested that they can handle it.
“It’s going to be tough at first,” Andrew said. “But, I mean, we’re not inseparable.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to show the world, individually, what we can do.”
Aaron made it sound like he and his twin brother are ready to go their separate ways.
“I think we’ll be just fine,” he said. “We haven’t talked about it that much. I think we’ll be fine.
“I think we’re ready to branch out and be our own men.”

Guess who Andrew talked to Thursday morning? Frank Kaminsky

Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison and Wisconsin All-American Frank Kaminsky became associated with each other in the NCAA Tournament.
In the post-game news conference following Wisconsin’s victory over Kentucky in the Final Four semifinals, a live microphone caught Harrison using an expletive and a racial slur in reference to Kaminsky.
Harrison subsequently apologized.
When asked about the incident on Thursday, Harrison said, “It’s funny. Because I talked to Frank this morning, actually.
“We talked about agents and stuff, where we’re going to be this summer.”
Kaminsky said he accepted Harrison’s apology and suggested everyone not make much out of the incident.
On Thursday, Harrison spoke of a lesson learned.
“We all know it was a mistake,” he said. “Heat of the moment. It’ll never happen again.”

Aaron to NBA: ‘I’m the best 2-guard in the draft’

NBA Draft analysts do not project Aaron Harrison as a first-round pick. The now former Kentucky guard to prove those projections wrong.
“I definitely think I can be in the first round,” Harrison said Thursday after he and six UK teammates announced they will enter this year’s NBA Draft. “I think I’m the best ‘2-guard’ in the draft. Just got to go work out prove it.”
Harrison used the word “prove” several times in talking about his draft profile.
“I have a lot to prove,” he said. “And I want to prove a lot.”
When asked what he’d like to prove, Harrison said, “Just to prove I’m one of the best guards, and just show my athletic ability, and just get back to just playing confident basketball.”
Devin Booker offered no objection to Harrison seeing himself as the best shooting guard in the draft.
“Everyone is supposed to have that confidence,” Booker said with a smile. “I feel the same way. And that’s exactly how Aaron should feel. Aaron is talented, too. You’ve seen what he can do.
“It’s going to be excited. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.”

HS coach expects Harrison twins to enter NBA Draft

The man who coached Andrew and Aaron Harrison in high school expects the twins to enter this year’s NBA Draft.
“They came close last year,” Craig Brownson said of the Harrisons entering the 2014 NBA Draft. “I was glad they came back.
“It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they decided to come out.”
Brownson, who coached the Harrison brothers for Travis High School in Richmond, Texas, said he did not have direct knowledge of the twins’ decisions.
The expected mass exodus of players from Kentucky’s basketball program will become official on Thursday.
UK has called a news conference for 2:30 p.m. Thursday. UK players who are ready to announce their NBA Draft decisions, as well as Coach John Calipari, will be at the news conference.
In addition to the Harrison twins, those players expected to leave UK are Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl-Anthony Towns and Trey Lyles.
On Monday, Calipari suggested that between five and seven players might enter this year’s NBA Draft.
Other possibilities include Alex Poythress, Devin Booker and Dakari Johnson.
The NBA’s deadline for applying to be an early entry into the NBA Draft is April 26.
The NBA’s deadline for withdrawing from the draft is June 15.
When it was suggested that the Harrisons came to UK with the idea of staying one season, thus following the multiple examples set by the program’s many one-and-done players, Brownson said, “That’s kind of my thinking.”
Brownson noted that the twins might believe that returning to UK for the 2014-15 season did not dramatically improve their NBA Draft profile. The Harrisons were projected as late first round/early second round picks in 2014.
As for this year, “Everything I’ve seen has them in the second round,” Brownson said.
The Harrisons might be thinking, “‘I don’t know if staying helps me,'” the Travis High School coach said. “. . . I wish they stayed. But it definitely wouldn’t surprise me (if the Harrisons entered their names in this year’s NBA Draft).”
There’s a perception that staying in college more than one season, especially at a Kentucky program synonymous with one-and-done players, would be interpreted as a player deficient in some way.
Do the Harrisons see validity in this way of thinking?
“Unfortunately, they probably do,” Brownson said.

Cal and one-and-done originator hug, exchange quips

In the late 1960s, Spencer Haywood challenged the existing NBA rule that required players entering the league to be out of high school at least four years.
The courts ruled in Haywood’s favor, which led to players moving directly from high school to the NBA. That has since been amended to become the so-called one-and-done rule, which requires players to be out of high school one year before being eligible for a NBA Draft.
Of course, Kentucky Coach John Calipari has built a dynasty with so-called one-and-done players.
That’s the backdrop to an exchange Monday between Haywood and Calipari, both of whom were announced as members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015 inductees.
“What do you think of four-year players?” a smiling Haywood called out to Calipari.
To which the smiling UK coach replied, “You screwed it up for us. Helped players, (but) screwed up coaches.”
Then Haywood and Calipari came together for a hug.

Cal: Blame me, don’t blame players

UK Coach John Calipari accepted the blame and invited the blame for Kentucky’s loss to Wisconsin.
“They can say whatever they want,” he said of those who questioned UK’s late-game strategy. “Were they saying that when we were winning all those close games.”
“All I can tell you is we were trying to do exactly what we did versus Notre Dame.”
Rather than milk the shot clock, UK wanted to run its offense with the emphasis on getting the ball to Towns in the post, Calipari said Monday.
“I wish I had a few more answers on how to post the ball,” he said. “. . . If they want to blame me for theloss, I agree. Don’t blame the kids.”
Even Wisconsin players said the basket by Nigel Hayes that tied the score at 60-60 came after the shot clock expired. But because a rule prohibits referees from checking a sideline monitor on such a call outside the final two minutes, the basket counted.
“It’s not the officials,” Calipari said. “They missed it. They kicked it. But they weren’t able to correct it. And that was the problem. . . . So you change the rules. Don’t ever let it happen again.”

Cal: ‘Great kids do dumb things’

Kentucky did not exit the Final Four gracefully. A microphone caught Andrew Harrison muttered an expletive and racial slur during the post-game news conference. Then UK players, including the Harrison twins and Cauley-Stein, did not follow college basketball custom and shake hands with Wisconsin players.
“Great kids do dumb things,” Calipari said. “My own children do things that I look and say, ‘Where did you come from? You did not come from me?’”
Calipari said any punishment would stay “in-house” and not be made public.
“They know I was disappointed, and we talked about it,” Calipari said. “And the only thing I can tell you is they apologized.”
The UK coach said he put great stock in acknowledging mistakes.
“You step to the plate,” he said. “When I do somethingn or say something to a player I shouldn’t say, I apologize. I hug them. . . .
“I want them to know it’s OK to be wrong. It’s OK to be stupid and do stupid t4hings. Step up to the plate, And I think they did.”

Cal: From 5 to 7 players will leave for NBA Draft

If John Calipari is correct, this year’s NBA Draft will resemble this college basketball season. There will be a distinct Kentucky presence.
The UK coach spoke of several of his players entering this June’s NBA Draft.
“We could lose seven guys,” he said Monday. “I would guess five at the minimum. But I would say seven is a distinct possibility.”
Among the players who’ve worn the Kentucky uniform for the last time is probably All-American Willie Cauley-Stein.
“I would say he and Karl, the twins Trey,” Calipari said. “There’s no reason to hold off if you know what you’re doing.”
Calipari was referring to Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew and Aaron Harrison and Trey Lyles.
Then there’s Alex Poythress, whose season ended in mid-December when he tore an anterior cruciate ligament.
“I’m going to explore for Alex,” Calipari said. “My guess is the injury probably will influence him to come back. But if someone says they’ll take him 15, 16 in the draft, then that may change.”
Devin Booker and Dakari Johnson will also consider entering this year’s NBA Draft.
“What if Dakari is the 25th pick in the draft,” the UK coach said. “I’m not going to say you should stay.”
Calipari spoke of Andrew and Aaron Harrison as first-round picks.
The morning after Wisconsin beat Kentucky in the Final Four semifinals Saturday night, Calipari had five-minute individual meetings with players who may weigh the turn pro/return to college decision.
“I did tell a couple kids that it is a man’s league,” Calipari said of the NBA. “It’s not a child’s league. If you’re not ready for a man’s league, you better come back.”
But Calipari said he did not want to have undue influence in the decision. He said he and the UK staff would try to gather information from 20 or more NBA teams to better inform the players.
And he mentioned one other role he can play.
“Now, I’m their PR machine,” he said.