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Kentucky starters headline group of early NBA draft entries

04.18.12 at 11:42 am ET
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The University of Kentucky put together a historically dominant 2011-12 season, one complete with a national championship spearheaded by an uber-talented collection of freshmen and sophomores. Now, two weeks removed from cutting down the nets in New Orleans, all five members of the Wildcats’ starting lineup have announced that they will forgo their remaining years of eligibility and declare for the 2012 NBA draft.

The group of early entrants is one stocked with projected first-round talent that includes freshmen Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague along with sophomores Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb.

The headliner of the group is Davis, who just completed one of the more decorated seasons in the history of college basketball, particularly for a freshman. Davis, a center, captured several major national player of the year awards and was the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player. Noted for his remarkable presence on the defensive end, Davis is almost universally projected as the No. 1 overall pick.

“It’s been a great opportunity playing here. I’ll miss this team, the way we played together. We all love each other,” Davis said in a team press conference Tuesday night. “I’m just going to miss this place. We won an NCAA championship here and did a lot. We all did a lot for this school and I’m going to miss it.”

Kidd-Gilchrist, a dynamic and play-making small forward, also is widely projected as a top-five pick, with many mock draft boards listing him as the No. 2 prospect available, just behind Davis. Jones was viewed as a potential lottery pick after his freshman season and is still viewed in that same light after an impressive end to his sophomore season.

Teague, the younger brother of Hawks point guard Jeff Teague, struggled throughout much of his freshman season but still is seen as a likely first-round pick along with Lamb, who scored a game-high 22 points in the national championship game. If all five Kentucky players are selected in the first round, it would tie the record for most first-round picks from a single school in a given draft, a mark set by Kentucky in 2010.

The Kentucky starters are the most high profile of the early entrants, but several of the projected top picks in the draft are coming out early. Following is a list of other players who have declared for the draft.

Thomas Robinson, Kansas junior forward
Andre Drummond, UConn freshman center
Harrison Barnes, North Carolina sophomore forward
Jeremy Lamb, UConn sophomore guard
Bradley Beal, Florida freshman guard
Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State junior forward
Austin Rivers, Duke freshman guard
Damian Lillard, Weber State junior guard
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State sophomore forward
Dion Waiters, Syracuse sophomore guard
Will Barton, Memphis sophomore guard
J’Covan Brown, Texas junior guard
Dominic Cheek, Villanova junior guard
Jared Cunningham, Oregon State junior guard
Moe Harkless, St. John’s freshman guard/forward
John Henson, North Carolina junior forward
John Jenkins, Junior, Vanderbilt
Perry Jones III, Sophomore, Baylor
Meyers Leonard, Sophomore, Illinois
Kendall Marshall, Sophomore, North Carolina
C.J. McCollum, Lehigh junior guard
Fab Melo, Syracuse sophomore center
Khris Middleton, Texas A&M junior forward
Terrence Ross, Washington sophomore guard
Renardo Sidney, Mississippi State junior forward
Hollis Thompson, Georgetown junior forward
Maalik Wayns, Villanova junior guard
Royce White, Iowa State sophomore forward
Tony Wroten, Jr., Washington freshman guard

Read More: Anthony Davis, Doron Lamb, Jeff Teague, Marquis Teague