LEMOND: Tubby on 'Buike, Prince and Mohammed

One former Kentucky Wildcat is getting ready for the NBA draft, while two other former Cats are getting ready for the NBA championship series.

One former Kentucky Wildcat is getting ready for the NBA draft, while two other former Cats are getting ready for the NBA championship series.

Kelenna Azubuike took part in the NBA pre-draft camp in Chicago where he measured a little taller than NBA scouts were expecting checking in at 6'6" in shoes. Most NBA draft projections and mock drafts have Azubuike getting drafted somewhere late in the second round of the NBA draft on June 28th, but if you ask his "old" coach, he would go a lot higher than that.

"There are not many athletes out there better than Kelenna Azubuike," Tubby Smith said. "I'd pick him! Why? He's tough, athletic, physical, he can shoot and defend. I would put him up against anybody 6'4" in the country."

While Azubuike is busying trying to impress NBA scouts, Tayshaun Prince and Nazr Mohammed are busy trying to find a way to beat each other. Prince's Detroit Pistons play Mohammed's San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Championship Series.

For Prince, the NBA Championship series is a "repeat performance". His Pistons won the title last year. This is the first trip to the NBA Finals for big Nazr. Mohammed helped UK win the 1998 NCAA championship in Smith's first year as the UK head coach.

"Nazr is a hard worker," Smith said of his former player. "He's talented and athletic. You don't make it to this level without being pretty talented. Now it's a matter of 'can you outwork your competition?' Nazr always had the work ethic and drive to get it done, so I'm not surprised at all at what he's accomplished."

Smith was in Detroit to watch the Pistons beat Miami in game six of the Eastern Conference finals. He met with Prince, Prince's fiancee, and Prince's mother.

"Tayshaun is doing the same things he did for us," Smith said. Prince played for Smith at UK from 1998-2002. He left Kentucky ranked eighth on the school's career scoring list.

Smith added, "His (Tayshaun's) ability to understand the game, what to do without the ball, what to do on offense and defense, it's makes everybody better. He's such an unselfish player. It's one of the keys to their (Detroit's) success."

The UK coach also uses Prince as a "poster child" for staying in school for four years. "Tayshaun enjoyed college," Smith said. "He would have stayed another year. He enjoyed that part of his life."


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