ESPNU to air Kentucky practice

The Kentucky Wildcats' unprecedented scouting combine for NBA personnel will be televised live on ESPNU on Oct. 10, the school and network confirmed.

The two-hour practice at the Joe Craft Center in Lexington will start at 3 p.m. with individual and team drills to showcase the roster that has been tabbed to include potentially 10 NBA draft picks in 2015.

All 30 NBA teams were invited to attend.

Schools that have NBA-level talent invite scouts during the course of the season to watch practice, but Kentucky coach John Calipari wanted to set up a specific NBA combine at the beginning of the season, rather than having scouts parade through during the season when it could be a distraction.

Kentucky's team is loaded with potential pro talent, with Karl-Anthony Towns, Aaron and Andrew Harrison, Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles, Marcus Lee, Tyler Ulis, Alex Poythress, Dakari Johnson and Devin Booker.

"All 30 teams would have been at my first week of practice anyway,'' Calipari told ESPN on Friday. "This gives us a chance to control it a bit and get on with our business.

"Let's say one of the kids doesn't show well. OK, it's early in the season,'' Calipari said. "It gives us and the NBA a base to start with. Our players will know without anyone saying anything where they are. For me, I'll be able to talk to all these teams and tell me where I need to take each individual guy. The NBA will give me the information I need from the horse's mouth. I don't see the downside to doing this.''

Calipari dismissed the idea that the combine will make the players consider the NBA.

"Someone said, 'You'll make them think about the NBA.' Excuse me? They all do. Even the walk-ons. It creates a base for me to build with each individual kid and what I need to do."
John Calipari, Kentucky coach

"Someone said, 'You'll make them think about the NBA.' Excuse me? They all do. Even the walk-ons,'' Calipari said. "It creates a base for me to build with each individual kid and what I need to do.

"All 30 teams will be here my first week of practice. Now it's all controlled and organized. How long I keep the [NBA scouts] out? I don't know. It could be weeks or months. I will have all the information I need to help each one of these kids."

The trend of having a pro day isn't new to college sports. College football programs have traditionally done this after the season before the NFL draft.

With the changes in the NBA draft rules, getting players to participate in a combine-style event has proved difficult. A number of the top players choose not to play in the NBA-sponsored Chicago draft camp in May.

The newer NCAA draft rules say that a player has until a week after the Final Four to declare for the NBA draft, but that is not binding.

The only NBA draft deadline the NBA considers is the one it administers at the end of April. If a college player sends in his name for the draft then, he is draft-eligible. And once that occurs, the player cannot return to college under NCAA rules.

Players no longer have the luxury of working out for teams in May and "testing" the draft process. Once they declare and send in their official letter, then they are in the draft.

Having a combine at some point in the season on a college campus at least gives NBA personnel an opportunity to view players in a competitive environment. Having a 5-on-5 and 3-on-3 competition doesn't occur with the elite players in the spring.

Calipari is expected to have the players run through those types of events for the scouts.

Not all college coaches are in favor of a combine if it's at the expense of not allowing NBA scouts into practice. Kansas Jayhawks coach Bill Self told ESPN last month that he likes having scouts come during the season.

Calipari's attempt to prevent distractions during the season could help the players, but it's still to be determined whether NBA scouts would prefer a combine-style event on a college campus after the season, rather than before. The issue with that could be that agents will have signed players and will want them with their specific workout coaches rather than with their college team in April and/or May.