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SportsColumnistsGreg Logan

Kentucky: They're No. 1 -- and done as players eye NBA

The Kentucky Wildcats huddle together during the National

The Kentucky Wildcats huddle together during the National Championship Game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. (April 2, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images


Think of Kentucky as the "Short Attention Span Dynasty" of college basketball. Coach John Calipari finally scaled the mountaintop by winning his first NCAA title, a 67-59 win over Kansas on Monday night at the Superdome, but by the time he reached the postgame news conference, folks already were talking about breaking up the Wildcats.

Including Calipari himself.

The first question freshman Anthony Davis received wasn't about how he shot 1-for-10 and still won the most outstanding player award by adding 16 rebounds, five assists and six blocks. It was about whether he had made up his mind to enter the NBA draft, seeing how he's projected as the No. 1 pick and all.

"No, I haven't decided," Davis said with a straight face. "We have until April 29 to decide. I'm going to sit down with my coach, sit down with my family and see what's the best decision for me."

Wildcats freshmen Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague and sophomores Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb also will consider whether to leave school early.

If they all came back, Kentucky would be heavily favored to repeat. But Calipari knows that's not going to happen, and he has adjusted to an environment in which the best of the best spend no more than a year or two in school.

There's no resting on his laurels for Calipari because he has to reload quickly. "I've got to go out recruiting Friday," he said when asked to reflect on how far he has come in his career. "You tell me to look back. I'm just looking forward. Let's keep marching."

Two years ago, Calipari reached the Elite Eight with a team that had five players chosen in the first round of the NBA draft. Last year, he lost two underclassmen, including freshman point guard Brandon Knight, off a team that reached the Final Four. That success in churning out NBA draft picks off his assembly line feeds Calipari's recruiting engine.

Two years ago, Calipari irked Blue Grass traditionalists by saying his record five first-round picks was one of the biggest moments in Kentucky basketball history. "The reason was, I knew now other kids would look and say, 'You got to go there,' " he said. "What I'm hoping is there's six first-rounders on this team . That's why I've got to go recruiting on Friday."

Calipari has already signed 6-10 Willie Cauley, 6-8 Alex Poythress and 6-5 Archie Goodwin, all of whom have enough stars next to their names on various recruiting lists to form their own galaxy.

Replacing Davis won't be easy, but there's this 6-10 kid in New England named Nerlens Noel, who is the projected No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft. If Calipari gets him . . . well, you know where this is going.

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