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NBA UK14: The Former Wildcats that are taking over the NBA
By Mike Jasko

In an inevitable result of John Calipari’s monster recruiting classes, the NBA has become littered former Wildcats. There are currently 19 former Kentucky players scattered across 15 teams. That means that half of the teams in the Association have a former UK player. Of course, this is not a strictly new phenomenon; a storied program such as Kentucky routinely produces professional-level talent. But amazingly, former ABA/NBA star Dan Issel is the only former Wildcat to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as an individual for their playing abilities. Pat Riley of course was inducted largely for his Coaching days, and several others were inducted as members of teams.

However, with this new wave of top-recruit-turned-pro players from Kentucky, there are now a number of young stars that all have the potential to play their way into the Hall one day. Here’s a look at just a few of the former Kentucky stars that are taking the league by storm.

Anthony Davis (PF- New Orleans Pelicans)

There’s no better place to start this list than with the Brow himself, Anthony Davis. Since leading Kentucky to a National Championship and being selected as the #1 pick in the 2012 Draft, AD has hit the ground running in the NBA. He won the rookie of the year award first season, made the All-Star team last year, and in this, his third season, he has taken a major leap.

Davis is playing as well as anyone in the league so far this season; he opened the campaign with 26 points, 17 rebounds, and 9 blocks, barely missing out on a triple-double. His statistics since then have been just as staggering. His 26.3 points per game is 2nd in the league, behind Kobe Bryant. His 11.4 rebounds per game put him 6th in the league, while he is currently tied for 2nd in the league with 2.2 steals per night. He also has a comfortable lead in blocks per game, averaging 3.5 per night.

In his last game at Utah, Davis went for a career-high 43 points while grabbing 14 rebounds. He has used the first month of the NBA season to cement himself as the brightest young star in the league and a legitimate MVP candidate.

DeMarcus Cousins (C- Sacremento Kings)

Plagued by problems with maturity and professionalism in his first couple years in the league, Boogie has apparently taken a major step forward this season, and along with teammate Rudy Gay, has made the Kings legitimate playoff contenders in the west. He’s tied for fifth in the league in scoring, notching 23.2 points per game, and is currently leading the NBA with 12.3 rebounds per game.

Boogie is also coming off a monster game against the Timberwolves where he scored 31 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. The two former-Wildcat big men face off tonight in New Orleans.

John Wall (PG- Washington Wizards)

Former teammate of Cousins at Kentucky was of course the sensational point guard, John Wall. Motivated by being cut from the USA World Cup team in favor of Cavaliers’ guard Kyrie Irving, Wall has played as well as any guard in the NBA thus far is making a case to be considered as the best point guard in the game. He ranks fourth in the league in assists at 9.1 per game while still scoring 19.4 points per game. He leads the league with 2.7 steals per game and has his Washington Wizards off to a division-best 9-3 start.

Wall’s scored 30 points twice this season, and in each of those contests he also had double-digit assists. In a recent showdown with the Cavaliers, Wall dominated Kyrie Irving to the tune of 28 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds.

Honorable Mention

Eric Bledsoe (SG- Phoenix Suns)

14.2 PPG, 5.5 APG, 5.4 RPG

Bledsoe plays in a face-paced three-guard system in Phoenix along with Slovenian international Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas. Also featured on the Suns’ roster is former Wildcat Archie Goodwin. Bledsoe has done well to share to ball with Dragic and Thomas as the Suns are off to a very solid 9-6 start.

Rajon Rondo (PG- Boston Celtics)

10.7 APG, 10.0 PPG, 7.9 RPG

One of the pre-Calipari players from Kentucky still kicking in the Association, Rondo will possibly be the next former Wildcat to be inducted in the Hall-of-Fame, but considering the list above, he certainly won’t be the last of this bunch. Rondo leads the NBA in assists currently, but unfortunately for him a promising rookie teammate of his, Marcus Smart went down early with an injury, and the Celtics have struggled to a 4-8 start.

Brandon Knight (PG- Milwaukee Bucks)

18 PPG, 6.4 APG, 5.3 RPG

Despite a very young core of talent, the Bucks have managed to stay at .500 to start to season, currently sitting at 7-7. A big part of that has been former Wildcat Brandon Knight; he leads the Bucks in both scoring and assists.

Tayshaun Prince (SF- Memphis Grizzlies)

The 34-year-old Prince plays only a minor role now for the Memphis Grizzlies, but as shown in this clip of his recent dunk against the Raptors, he can still get up. 

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