For the last five years, Kentucky’s basketball program has dominated the football program when it comes to players getting drafted in their respective professional leagues. That could change with the 2013 draft classes. Given the seven draft rounds for the NFL and the comparatively tiny two rounds of the NBA, it seems the football program should always win when it comes to total number of draftees. But UK’s success on the court and disappointment on the field has resulted in the opposite trend, especially so over the last three years. Things might just turn around in the 2013 draft if Kentucky’s standout football stars can manage a successful season starting a week from today.
Before we look at each 2013 class, let’s look at a comparison of players selected over the last five drafts (since 2008).
|2008||3 players||1 player|
|2009||2 players*||1 player|
|2010||3 players||5 players|
|2011||1 player||4 players*|
|2012||2 players||6 players|
* denotes special circumstances, in which players were given benefit of doubt and added to totals
To put those numbers in perspective, only six total football players have been drafted in the last three years, while six basketball players were drafted in 2012 alone. Over the last three years, there have been almost three times as many basketball draftees as football draftees. And over the last five years basketball takes the win with 17 draftees to 11 for football. John Calipari’s influence is evident, as he’s proven unbeatable over the last three drafts. His ability to recruit top-tier freshmen prospects and deliver them to the NBA quickly has trumped Joker Phillips and the development time football prospects require.
But things might actually favor the football field this time around. After taking in a few different NFL Draft sources across the web, no less than nine Wildcat prospects have been touted as having draft potential. Larry Warford, La’rod King, Martavious Neloms, Cartier Rice, Matt Smith, Collins Ukwu, Coshik Williams, Ridge Wilson, and Taylor Wyndham have all been mentioned as possible draft selections. It’s unlikely that a majority of these players will make the cut, but four or five have great chances. Warford, King, and Smith are the most-discussed and likely NFL prospects, while Neloms and Ukwu are also feasible selections.
On the other hand, Kentucky’s 2013 basketball draft class may be the smallest of the Calipari era. Unlike past teams which benefited from upperclassmen selections (Patrick Patterson, Josh Harrelson, DeAndre Liggins, and Darius Miller), there probably won’t be an upperclassman selected in the 2013 draft. Nerlens Noel is a project top-5 pick, Alex Poythress is a project lottery pick, and Archie Goodwin is a project first rounder. Beyond those three freshmen, there aren’t many other options. Kyle Wiltjer could be selected if he has a breakout year, and Willie Cauley-Stein could be drafted on potential and size alone. If any of the freshmen standouts decide to stay, Kentucky could have as few as one or two players drafted.
In the end, there are likely going to be three football players drafted, and maybe even four or five. There may only be two or three basketballers picked, leveling the playing field for the first time in the last few years. And if things go well for the football squad individually, they could even topple the scales in their favor, actually outdrafting Calipari’s Cats.
Filed Under: Football
About the Author: Corey Tincher is a lifelong Kentucky fan and professional writer who couldn't keep the two worlds apart. He is the lead contributor for StraitCats.com and literally wrote the book on the 2012 NCAA Tournament Championship run, Big Blue Articles: Kentucky Basketball in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Follow @Corey_Tincher on Twitter for more Kentucky news and discussion.