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Even Calipari unsure if Knight, Jones should stay in draft

Apr 13, 2011, 7:39 PM EDT

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When John Calipari isn’t sure, you know it’s a screwy NBA draft.

The Kentucky coach wants stars and likely lottery picks Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones to throw their names into the draft pool – but staying in is another story. And this is a coach who’s never shied away from telling kids they should pro.

“It has been easy for me to recommend in the past. This one here has been delicate,” Calipari told the Sporting News. “I just want this to be clearer, so I can give them the information. The worst thing for everyone is the kid feels, ‘I’m going to go top 10,’ and he goes 20. And there’s a big difference.”

Knight, a 6-3 guard, and Jones, a 6-9 forward, are both among the top prospects in this year’s draft. They’re also ranked among the top 14 prospects, which means they’re both good bets to make big money.

But two things are making it difficult.

The first is the impending lockout. Players don’t know what to make of the 2011-12 NBA season. When will it start? When can rookies sign? What if it drags on and on? That uncertainty is killer and one of the major reasons why guys like Baylor’s Perry Jones, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger and North Carolina’s John Henson are staying in school.

The other? An early withdrawal date of May 8. That’s before most teams will hold workouts and before the NBA draft lottery. As Mike DeCourcy writes, that’s a date that makes it tough for most players to accurately assess their draft stock. (And if it were moved up? Insanity.)

And if they do return to Kentucky and play with those four 5-star recruits heading to Lexington next season? The 2012 NBA draft could feature a lot of blue.

“We may be one of the first teams to get six first-round draft picks,” Calipari told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “No, we’d be the first. Could happen.”

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

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