NBA Prospects?

The major difference between Kentucky and Louisville? John Calipari's starting lineup will be playing in the NBA next season, while Rick Pitino has no sure-fire future NBA players on his roster. Pitino assessed the NBA prospects of his Cardinals Wednesday night on his coaches show.

Wednesday night Louisville coach Rick Pitino said that rival Kentucky is in a 'class by themselves' nationally.

What separates the Wildcats from the rest of college basketball? (Yes, Louisville fans, I know your answer) The simple fact is that all five of John Calipari's starters are projected as first round draft picks in June's NBA Draft, according to Even sixth-man Darius Miller is projected as a late second round selection.

And Louisville? None of Pitino's Cardinals are projected to be picked in either round of this year's NBA Draft. That's the major difference between Kentucky and Louisville. Calipari is playing with a stacked deck of guys who will play in the NBA next season, while Pitino has no sure-fire future NBA players on his roster and expects all of Louisville's underclassmen to return in 2012-13.

Rick Pitino says Gorgui Dieng has to gain strength to play in the NBA
Now, that doesn't mean Louisville can't challenge the Kentucky's and Syracuse's of college basketball. Clearly, they can. Nor does it mean Pitino's current players won't eventually find their way onto NBA rosters in the future. Ever hear of a guy named Jeremy Lin?

With that said, here's how Pitino assessed the NBA prospects for his current players:

Gorgui Dieng: "Gorgui Dieng has an outside chance (to play in the NBA). It all depends on his lower body strength. If he doesn't get lower body strength he's not going to play in the NBA."

Chane Behanan: "Chane Behanan has to learn to shoot and pass and he has pro potential. He's not a bad shooter but we've got to change something in his shot that makes him just an average shooter. It's very easy to change. We'll work on that in the off-season."

Peyton Siva: "The lights going to go off and he's going to gain consistency and I think he'll have a shot at it."

Luke Hancock: "He's the best basketball player on our team, by far. Not the fastest or the best athlete. He shoots it and passes it well. I've never coached anybody like him in my life. He really understands the game and is an off-the-charts leader. Luke Hancock will have a shot at the (NBA)."

Wayne Blackshear: "[Wayne] Blackshear has to get over his injuries and get healthy and then we'll see what he can do. He was a tremendous high school basketball players, one of my favorite guys to watch. I haven't seen enough at the college level to make a judgement."

Cardinal Authority Top Stories