The worst kept secret in the Commonwealth is finally out, five Kentucky basketball players have officially announced their intention to enter the 2010 National Basketball Association Draft.
Junior Patrick Patterson, as well as freshmen Eric Bledsoe, DeMarcus Cousins, Daniel Orton and John Wall will all put their name in the draft. They each have until May 8 to withdraw should they so choose, with the Draft taking place on June 24.
"I've spoken with all five guys concerning the NBA and have encouraged them to put their names in the draft," UK coach John Calipari said. "They've all met individually with our compliance office to make sure they have a full understanding of eligibility rules and academic responsibilities. I'm so proud of these five young men, with everything they did for us on the court and the way they represented us off of it.
"It's extremely unusual for four freshmen from the same team to have this opportunity, but it's my job as a coach to prepare these young men for such opportunities."
The following are the thoughts of the Cats' four freshmen about entering the NBA Draft:
"I never thought I'd be in this position after one year," Bledsoe said. "Coach Cal pushed us all to be the best we could be and he believes I'm prepared to take my game to the next level. I want to thank the fans for all their support this year."
"Coach challenged me to grow on and off the court this season," Cousins said. "I believe my game expanded along with my maturity. This year was the most fun I've ever had playing basketball and a lot of it had to do with the support I got from our fans."
"Being at Kentucky allowed me to play with some of the most talented players in the country," Orton said. "Battling with DeMarcus (Cousins) and Patrick (Patterson) every day helped improve my game. I want to thank the coaching staff for helping put me in a position to be drafted this year."
"I'm not the same player as when I arrived at UK," Wall said. "I believe I'm ready for the next challenge as Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans were the last two years under Coach Cal. I want to thank my teammates and the fans for all their support this year. I love them."
Matt May is the basketball beat reporter for The Cats' Pause. If you have questions or comments about the Cats e-mail him here. You can also follow "TCPMAY" on Twitter for live updates.