BOZICH: Opening Night NBA Winners: Heat, Pacers, Lakers, Kentucky
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – On opening night of the NBA season, the winners were the Pacers, the Heat, the Lakers and the University of Kentucky.
Call the roll from the opening day rosters. According to the website RealGM.com, you'll find 21 former UK players in the league, representing 14 different franchises.
The Wildcats are more than a starting lineup ahead of any other college program. Duke and North Carolina both have 15 former players in the league. Kansas has 14. Not that John Calipari needs more recruiting angles.
They play superb basketball in the Big Ten, right? Follow the numbers: The Big Ten has a dozen teams and 29 guys on NBA rosters, only eight ahead of UK. Get to work, fellas.
It's been a team effort in Lexington. The last four Kentucky coaches have all recruited at least one guy still in the league. Here's the breakdown.
Rick Pitino (1) – Nazr Mohammed, Chicago.
Tubby Smith (5) – Rajon Rondo, Boston; Keith Bogans, Boston; Jodie Meeks, Lakers; Tayshaun Prince, Memphis; Chuck Hayes, Sacramento.
Billy Gillispie (3) – Josh Harrellson, Detroit; Darius Miller, New Orleans; Patrick Patterson, Sacramento.
John Calipari (12) – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte; Marcus Teague, Chicago; Terrence Jones, Houston; Brandon Knight, Milwaukee; Anthony Davis, New Orleans; Doron Lamb, Orlando; Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia; Daniel Orton, Philadelphia; Archie Goodwin, Phoenix; Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix; DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento; John Wall, Washington.
(RealGM also included Enes Kanter of the Jazz but he neither played nor graduated from UK. Why pile on?)
Lamb did not play for Orlando Tuesday night, limited by a sprained ankle. Mohammed failed to score in five minutes for the Bulls. Teague did not play.
Meeks was the star of the night, scoring 13 points off the bench as the Lakers upset the Clippers. In fact, you can credit Meeks with the points that tied the game and then put the Lakers ahead in the fourth quarter.
Calipari is also represented by three guys that he recruited to Memphis – Derrick Rose (Bulls), Tyreke Evans (Pelicans) and Shawne Williams (Lakers).
What are the numbers for the other local programs?
Louisville (5) – Earl Clark, Cleveland; Peyton Siva, Detroit; Francisco Garcia, Houston; Gorgui Dieng, Minnesota; Chris Smith, Knicks.
Indiana (3) – Eric Gordon, New Orleans; Victor Oladipo, Orlando; Cody Zeller, Charlotte. Oladipo made his debut to a standing ovation in Indianapolis. He finished with a dozen points, three rebounds and two assists in an Orlando loss.
Western Kentucky (2) – Jeremy Evans, Utah; Courtney Lee, Boston.
Morehead State (1) – Kenneth Faried, Denver.
Murray State (1) – Isaiah Canaan, Houston.
WDRB Sports journalist Rick Bozich has been a sports columnist in Louisville for more than three decades, is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Hall of Fame, and for some reason, he was immortalized as the namesake of a character in the long-running comic strip Gil Thorp. Follow Rick on Twitter by clicking here or on Facebook here.
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