Lexington, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - Seven members of the Kentucky men's basketball team have decided to enter the NBA Draft.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles, Devin Booker, Aaron and Andrew Harrison, and Dakari Johnson announced their decisions Thursday in a press conference with coach John Calipari.
The Wildcats had a historic season, winning their first 38 games before losing to Wisconsin in the national semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
"We didn't quite reach our goal, a national championship," said Calipari, "but you can't take away from what these players did accomplish."
Calipari, with the seven players seated by his side, made a few more comments before asking the players that had decided to enter the draft to stand up. The group remained seated for a moment, drawing a few laughs from the assembled media, before all rising together.
"We had a meeting to start the year," Calipari said. "I told them, 'I'm on a mission this year; to have eight players with a chance to be drafted.'"
Calipari said it might have been eight had junior Alex Poythress not suffered a torn ACL after eight games. Poythress had considered a jump to the NBA last year after his sophomore season.
Each player had a quick chance with the microphone after Calipari finished and echoed the initial statement made by Aaron Harrison, who said, "It's all about our dreams and we just want to chase our dreams."
Aaron Harrison led Kentucky in scoring, averaging 11.0 points in 39 games.
Towns could be the top overall pick in June. He averaged 10.3 points with a team-best 6.7 rebounds in 39 games during his only season and led the Wildcats in scoring in three of their five NCAA Tournament games, including 25 in the 68-66 Midwest Region final against Notre Dame.
"We just felt it was the right time to take the next step," said Towns, a 6- foot-11 forward.
Cauley-Stein averaged 8.9 points with 6.4 rebounds in 39 games as a junior. The 7-foot forward averaged 8.0 points in 105 games at Kentucky, including 70 as a starter.
"It's a decision that everyone and their families had to make," said the elder statesman Cauley-Stein, who has also been projected as a potential lottery pick in June.
The remaining players to declare were all freshmen and sophomores.
Andrew Harrison, a 6-foot-6 guard, averaged 9.3 points in his sophomore year, while fellow sophomore Johnson, a 7-foot center, averaged 6.4 points and 4.6 rebounds in 39 games off the bench.
Booker didn't start any of his 38 games this past season, but the 6-foot-6 freshman guard was still was third in scoring at 10.0 points per game. He also shot 41.1 percent from 3-point range.
Lyles, a 6-foot-10 freshman, averaged 8.7 points in 36 games.
Tyler Ulis, the Wildcats' leading 3-point shooter as a freshman, and sophomore forward Marcus Lee will apparently return with another highly touted recruiting class.