BOZICH | Louisville, Kentucky, Indiana College Basketball Notebook
Kentucky's NBA Draft Top 10 streak on the line? Thoughts on David Johnson and Louisville; Expectations low for Indiana in Archie Miller's first season.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- I have not created a mission statement for this space, but this one fits:
There is never a bad time to talk college basketball.
That said, let's fight through a double screen and get to the rim with several hoops items of note.
1. No Kentucky players in the 2018 NBA Draft Top 10?
John Calipari loves sending guys to the NBA. Speaking of mission statements, that must be one of his. The chances are that more Kentucky players will depart for The League after next season. But one Calipari streak could be in jeopardy:
For the first time in nine seasons, at least one outlet is predicting Kentucky will not have a Top 10 NBA Draft pick.
That somebody is TheRinger.com, which shared its projected list of lottery picks for the 2018 Draft at this link.
If you trust the site's three-member panel, the first pick will be a European -- Luka Doncic, a 6-foot-8 forward from Slovenia.
The first American college player on the list is no surprise -- Marvin Bagley III, a spectacular player and student. At 6-11, Bagley has been described as the best pro prospect since Anthony Davis.
He must also be dazzling in the classroom because about 20 seconds after Bagley decided to skip his senior year of high school, he was admitted to one of the most prestigious private colleges in America. Don't try doing that if you're merely the basic valedictorian.
Keep scrolling through TheRinger's list.
The first Kentucky player registers at No. 12.
It is forward Kevin Knox, the 5-star forward from Tampa, a guy many predict with be the Wildcats' leading scorer.
He is also the only UK player in TheRinger's lottery projection. ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla tweeted that the list was "entirely premature."
Not having a Top 10 pick or even a lottery pick would not be a terrible thing, if it led to a solid sophomore class that Calipari could enhance with more recruits next season. Veteran teams (North Carolina in 2017 and Villanova in 2016) have won the last two national titles.
2. David Johnson Ignores His Screen Saver
When I discovered that Trinity guard David Johnson committed to Louisville last weekend, my first thought was:
Wonder if Johnson changed the screen saver on his smart phone?
Last summer, when Johnson played at an AAU event at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center, he enjoyed the attention from U of L coach Rick Pitino and other college coaches, while confessing that he was enough of a Kentucky fan that his screensaver photo featured a Kentucky basketball player.
Now Johnson is a Louisville guy -- and two former U of L players (Wiley Brown and Ellis Myles) believe Johnson has the ability to play professional basketball.
Please note that I said professional basketball, not specifically the NBA. No reason to put ridiculous expectations on a high school junior. Myles coached Johnson's AAU team and raved about his poise, intelligence and understanding of the game.
Brown was more bullish on Johnson, telling me that he was impressive as any high school player Brown had watched in this area in years -- and Brown has been around for nearly four decades.
3. No Love For Indiana
The pre-season college basketball magazines keep arriving -- and nobody has been willing to put Archie Miller's first Indiana team in the first division of the Big Ten.
Not Athlon, which projects the Hoosiers to finish ninth.
Not Street & Smith's, which says 10th.
Not Lindy's, which says 12th, ahead of Nebraska and Rutgers -- and long-time followers of the Big Ten remain reluctant to describe the Cornhuskers and Scarlet Knights as Big Ten programs.
Anybody disagree with those chilly forecasts?
ESPN and the Big Ten league office must. Hard to believe they would schedule the league's 10th best team against the best team in the country (Bagley, Grayson Allen and Duke) in a Big Ten/ACC Challenge 9:30 p.m. game on Nov. 29 simply because it's Archie Miller's first season in Bloomington.
My take on IU is that Miller's first team has a ceiling of fifth place and a floor of tenth. Michigan State, Purdue, Minnesota and Northwestern are all likely stronger. The Hoosiers will be in a scrum with Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Maryland and Penn State in the next wave, ahead of Ohio State, Illinois, Nebraska and Rutgers.
The development of center De'Ron Davis, improvement in defense and turnover margin and health will determine where the Hoosiers finish.
Better to be picked 12th and finish fifth than to be picked and finish 12th, correct?
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