Kentucky and North Carolina appear headed for an NBA first during tonight’s draft.
The two marquee college basketball programs each will likely have four players selected in the first round, starting with UK’s Anthony Davis — the all-but-certain No. 1 overall pick.
If that happens, it would be the first time two schools accounted for eight first-rounders — possibly in the first 20 picks — in the same draft since the NBA went to its current two-round format in 1989. And the number could grow to as high as 10.
On the Kentucky side, forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist could go right behind Davis at No. 2 and doesn’t seem likely to slip out of the top seven. Senior NBA scouting executive Ryan Blake expects forward Terrence Jones to go anywhere from No. 6 to No. 15, while guard Marquis Teague is likely a mid to late first-round pick.
As for North Carolina, Blake expects Harrison Barnes to go somewhere between No. 3 and No. 10, long-armed forward John Henson between No. 5 and No. 15, and 7-footer Tyler Zeller between No. 6 and No. 20. Blake said Kendall Marshall, regarded as one of the top point guards in the draft, is a likely mid to late first-rounder.
Since the NBA went to a two-round draft in 1989, only four schools — Duke in 1999, North Carolina in 2005, Connecticut in 2006 and Kentucky in 2010 — have had at least four first-round picks in the same draft, with the Wildcats setting a record with five two years ago, according to STATS LLC.
The closest two schools came to accounting for eight first-round picks was when Florida and Ohio State each had three in 2007. The schools had five of the first nine selections — including top overall pick Greg Oden, Al Horford and Joakim Noah — and the sixth coming in at No. 21.
The Bucks acquired veteran center Samuel Dalembert from the Rockets in a trade. The Bucks got Dalembert, the 14th overall pick in today’s draft, a future second-round pick and cash considerations from Houston in exchange for former University of Washingon forward Jon Brockman, forward Jon Leuer, guard Shaun Livingston and the 12th pick. … The Lakers have been checking around the league this week to gauge Pau Gasol’s trade value, according to ESPN sources. The Lakers are reported to be seeking a top-10 pick in today’s draft and an established player for Gasol, as well as off-loading the final two years and $38 million of his contract.
Position-by-position NBA draft rankings
Charlotte (N.C.) Observer NBA writer Rick Bonnell ranks the top five players at each position in today’s draft (This does not necessarily represent the top 25 players overall, but rather depth by position):
Damian Lillard, Weber State, 6-foot-3, 189 pounds: Big talent, but still working through the decision-making expected of a true point guard in the NBA.
Kendall Marshall, North Carolina, 6-4, 200: Very cerebral, he’ll find teammates when they’re open. But his shot and his athleticism limit him.
Marquis Teague, Kentucky, 6-2, 180: The Wildcats had so many options in their national championship run that Teague didn’t have to take over. Good penetrator who is still unrefined.
Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas, 6-4, 177: A second-round sleeper. With D.J. Augustin a restricted free agent, he might be worth a look.
Tony Wroten, Jr., Washington, 6-6, 203: A big point guard (6-6 in shoes) who finishes well at the rim but must develop a more reliable jump shot.
Bradley Beal, Florida, 6-5, 201: Good shot mechanics. He might evolve into a combo guard over time, at least helping with ball-handling and distribution.
Dion Waiters, Syracuse, 6-4, 221: Gutsy shooter and has the strong upper body you seldom see in a rookie shooting guard. Might have most star potential behind Kentucky’s Anthony Davis.
Austin Rivers, Duke, 6-5, 203: Grew up around the NBA (his father coaches the Boston Celtics). An alpha male who won’t hesitate to take the shot that wins or loses a big game.
Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut, 6-5, 180: Obviously skilled and benefits from a 6-11 wingspan. But he’s passive and that’s not the mindset anyone wants from a shooting guard.
Terrence Ross, Washington, 6-7, 199: Already possesses NBA 3-point range. Weighed 199 pounds over a 6-7 body, so he needs bulk and strength.
Harrison Barnes, North Carolina, 6-8, 228: A gifted jump-shooter with good size, but he needs to improve his ball-handling to start creating his own shot opportunities.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky, 6-8, 233: Has a great motor and will be a strong defender, but he needs to become a dramatically better shooter and ball-handler.
Moe Harkless, St. John’s, 6-9, 206: A fine athlete. Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap, who coached him at St. John’s, says he’ll be a 10-year pro.
Royce White, Iowa State, 6-8, 261: Think former Knicks and Charlotte Hornets star Anthony Mason, as far as a point-forward. You can run your offense through him in the post.
Quincy Miller, Baylor, 6-10, 219: His length ( 7-1 wingspan) will cause abundant matchup problems once his body fills out.
Anthony Davis, Kentucky, 6-10, 222: The prize of this draft. At worst, he’s a superior shot-blocker and rebounder. At best he’s the next Kevin Garnett.
Thomas Robinson, Kansas, 6-9, 244: A tough guy who figures to average a double-double for his career. Also scores high on the character scale.
John Henson, North Carolina, 6-11, 216: Should be a factor as a shot-blocker. Runs the floor well, too. But he needs weight and strength in the worst way.
Terrence Jones, Kentucky, 6-10, 252: Will also play some small forward. A 7-2 wingspan allows him to play bigger than his frame suggests.
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State, 6-9, 268: Productive guy who plays mostly below the rim. Medical reports on his back may have pushed him to bottom of first round.
Andre Drummond, Connecticut, 7-0, 279: Has the prototypical NBA center’s body, but underwhelmed during his one college season. No real shooting range.
Meyers Leonard, Illinois, 7-1, 250: A 7-footer with scoring touch in the post. When hasn’t that gotten somebody paid in the NBA?
Tyler Zeller, North Carolina, 7-0, 247: He’ll score inside and out and will be a consistent rebounder. But does he have the reflexes and lateral quickness to guard his position?
Fab Melo, Syracuse, 7-0, 255: Shot-blocker who can fill up the lane defensively. Academic troubles kept him from finishing his season with the Orangemen.
Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt, 7-0, 264: Was basically a goalie for the Commodores, who had abundant scorers surrounding him. A long way to go offensively.