Mark Story: After draft, Tar Heels hold edge over UK

North Carolina returns top players

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistApril 29, 2011 

Fast-break points from the best man's toast:

21. Kentucky-North Carolina. You will need to win the Powerball to meet the market price for tickets for next season's UK-UNC regular-season men's basketball meeting in Rupp Arena.

20. Heels staying. With the decisions of Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Harrison Barnes not to enter the NBA draft, Carolina is going to be a highly talented, experienced team in 2011-12.

19. Cats going? Unless Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones and DeAndre Liggins pull their names out of the draft, Kentucky is going to be a highly talented, freshman-dominated (four of the top six players) team in 2011-12.

18. Advantage: Tar Heel blue. Experienced, high-level talent is going to prevail against inexperienced, high-level talent.

17. NBA mock draft I. The most recent 2011 mock at nbadraft.net, has Enes Kanter going No. 3, Brandon Knight No. 5, Terrence Jones No. 12, Kenneth Faried No. 21 and Shelvin Mack No. 23. No mention of DeAndre Liggins.

16. NBA mock draft II. At draftexpress.com, they have Brandon Knight going No. 5, Enes Kanter No. 7, Terrence Jones No. 11, Kenneth Faried No. 20 and Shelvin Mack No. 42. No mention of DeAndre Liggins.

15. Pro hoops in a "college town." For those who always oppose proposals to bring an NBA basketball team to Louisville, I would note that the fans in Memphis look fairly giddy on TV as they watch the Grizzlies scare the bejeebers out of San Antonio in the playoffs.

14. Bluegrass bounty. The final 2011 Rivals 150 listing of the best incoming men's basketball players entering college hoops this fall has a whopping 10 players committed to schools in the commonwealth.

13. Kentucky. Has four, of course — No. 2 Anthony Davis, No. 3 Michael Gilchrist, No. 5 Marquis Teague and No. 22 Kyle Wiltjer.

12. Louisville. Has four, too — No. 21 Chane Behanan, No. 36 Wayne Blackshear, No. 67 Zach Price and No. 132 Ryan Taylor (who is committed but has not signed).

11. Western Kentucky University. Has two — No. 105 Derrick Gordon and No. 150 George Fant.

10. Ex-Wildcat's son to Butler. According to the Indianapolis Star, 5-foot-11 junior point guard Chris Harrison-Docks (23 points a game, 2.4 assists) from Okemos, Mich., has committed to Coach Brad Stevens for 2012-13. Harrison-Docks, the son of former UK guard Chris Harrison, also had offers from Utah and San Diego State.

9. Tennessee standout to Morehead. Dre Mathieu, a 5-foot-11 point guard from Central High School in Tennessee, was named the Boys Basketball Player of the Year by the Knoxville News-Sentinel. Mathieu (20.7 ppg, 8.1 assists, 4.8 steals) accepted an invitation to walk on at Morehead State after Chattanooga withdrew a scholarship offer and no other Division I school offered.

8. Demonte redux? MSU Coach Donnie Tyndall will hope that history repeats. Four springs ago, another high school guard from Tennessee agreed to pay his own way (for one year) at Morehead.

Nasvhille product Demonte Harper turned out pretty well, earning OVC Tournament MVP honors this season and hitting The Shot that beat Louisville in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

7. Sprint Cup in Kentucky. As you read this, 71 days — 10 races — until NASCAR's major leagues (finally) run at Kentucky Speedway.

6. UK NFL draft drought. In the six drafts from 2002 through 2007, UK had a combined five players selected, including zero in both 2006 and 2007.

5. UK NFL draft bounty. In the three drafts from 2008-10, Kentucky has had nine players drafted and two others (Wesley Woodyard, Garry Williams) earn full-time NFL jobs as free agents.

4. Randall Cobb. He told the Knoxville News-Sentinel that his NFL Draft stock is high because of "all the things Kentucky allowed me to do. I loved every second up in Lexington."

3. Derrick Locke. I think the speedy UK running back will make it in the NFL as a kick returner, pass-catching third-down back and change-of-pace runner.

2. Jim Tressel. If the Big Ten is really so much more ethical than the SEC (as its supporters so often claim), shouldn't the Ohio State football coach have already been fired for covering up rules violations in the Buckeyes program?

1. The royal couple. When I kept hearing on TV in recent days about a "royal couple" from (the) UK, I assumed they were talking about the union of former Kentucky basketball stars Jeff Sheppard and Stacey Reed.

Reach Mark Story at (859) 231-3230 or 1-800-950-6397, ext. 3230, or mstory@herald-leader.com. Your e-mail could appear on the blog Read Mark Story's E-mail at Kentucky.com.

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