The hyper-competitive, high-scoring Connecticut junior guard made it official on Tuesday afternoon, announcing at a news conference in Storrs that he would forgo his senior season with the Huskies and enter the NBA Draft. And why not? He's already accomplished everything at the college level. He's scored 1,783 career points, he's led his team to a national championship, and he's even graduating from college in just three years.
Now's his time. It couldn't be clearer.
It helps that Walker sent his draft stock skyrocketing this past month, being named a first-team All-American and leading UConn on an unforgettable run through the postseason. Between the Big East tournament and the national one, he led the Huskies to 11 straight wins en route to two championships. He hit a shocking game-winning shot to beat Pitt in the conference tourney, he knocked down countless big ones in the Big Dance, and he led UConn with 16 points in its win over Butler last week to win it all.
But there's more.
It also helps that Kemba's entering the draft in a weak year. There's no LeBron James, Blake Griffin or John Wall in this class — there's a lot of pretty-good-but-not-great talents in the field who may or may not pan out in the NBA. There's no clear No. 1, and depending on the lottery winner and their needs, the top of the draft could shake out a lot of different ways.
It helps that of the top players out there, a few have already said no to this year's draft. Baylor's Perry Jones is staying put, so too is Ohio State's Jared Sullinger, or so he says at the moment. Arizona's Derrick Williams is still undeclared, and speculation abounds that he might give it another go with the Wildcats.
Even with the players who are coming out, there are doubts. Harrison Barnes from UNC was supposed to be the game's next big star, but his stock has fallen steadily over the last year. Jimmer Fredette has been a sensation at BYU, but who knows whether his game will actually translate to the pros? As for the rest of the class, let's just say the depth is seriously lacking. If your team has a selection outside the top five, the pickings will be quite slim.
On top of it all, there's the lingering spectre of a lockout this summer, which casts doubt over the whole draft and opens the door for Kemba to make his move up the ranks.
Kemba has plenty of weaknesses. He's not big or strong for an NBA player — he looks a lot more like Nate Robinson (a No. 21 pick) physically than Deron Williams (a No. 3). Beyond his scoring, there are lots of questions about his overall game — his shot selection, his control of the basketball, his defensive fundamentals. But in a couple of months, we may find out that none of that matters.
Kemba was always a lottery pick. He was a top-14 guy at the very least, from day one. But the events of the last month have made things very interesting. The potential is there for a very, very good draft night for the UConn star. The sky's the limit for him now.
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