Drummond, Lamb are at a crossroads

Louisville - Sometime in the next month or so, two Huskies will have a big decision to make about their basketball futures.

Freshman Andre Drummond and sophomore Jeremy Lamb are both projected to be NBA lottery picks in the 2012 draft. Most mock drafts place Drummond in the top three and Lamb in the 10-12 range in the first round.

Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, whose resume includes 10 years playing in the NBA and four years as an assistant general manager and vice president for basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, believes both Huskies have a bright professional future.

"I think the sky is the limit for those two," Hoiberg said. "As far as NBA prospects, I think both of those kids are future lottery picks."

Hoiberg just hoped Drummond and Lamb would not play like future pros against Iowa State Thursday night in the NCAA tournament South Region game.

Drummond, a freakishly athletic 6-foot-10, 270-pound center, entered Thursday's game averaging 10.2 points and leading the team in rebounds (7.7) and blocks (2.7). He earned a spot on the All-Big East rookie team.

"Drummond, his size, you don't see many people that can run the floor like him and get off the ground," Hoiberg said. "He's going to be a big-time pro just because of the size that he has."

Lamb, a 6-5 guard and All-Big East first team selection, ranks first on the team in scoring at 17.7 points and also averages 4.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.2 steals.

"As far as Lamb, just a complete guard," Hoiberg said. "He's got that size, he's got that length. He's got that athleticism and he's a tough kid to stop."

Given their position, it will be difficult for Drummond and Lamb to resist the urge and financial pull to jump to the NBA. The declaration deadline for early draft entries is April 29. The Huskies never have had a player leave for the NBA after just one season and only three (Caron Butler, Charlie Villanueva, Rudy Gay) go after their sophomore years.

Top-seeded Kentucky, which beat No. 16 Western Kentucky Thursday, has two players in a similar position. Star forward Anthony Davis is projected to be the top overall pick and fellow freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has lottery pick potential.

Kentucky coach John Calipari is all for making changes in the system that would encourage players to stay in school. But he realizes that it's hard for talented players to hold off on the NBA, using Brandon Knight as an example. He left school early last season and is now playing for the Detroit Pistons.

"Brandon Knight was a 4.0 student and had 60 college credits after one year," Calipari said. "That's two years of work in one year. But he was the seventh pick of the draft. How could you tell him to stay?"

A barrel of laughs

Sophomore Shabazz Napier has frequently stated that UConn's late-season resurgence is directly related to the Huskies having fun. He said that turnaround started when coach Jim Calhoun rejoined the team on March 2.

Calhoun had some fun of his own when responding to a question about that premise.

"I think cantankerous is the word associated with me," Calhoun said. "Kind of a barrel of laughs, most people would refer to me as. Most officials do. They really think I'm a hell of a guy."

News and notes

The Huskies held a light workout during the day Thursday at Spalding University in Louisville and visited the Muhammad Ali Center. … Drummond (10.2 points) and Ryan Boatright (10.5) are the first UConn freshmen teammates to average in double figures in the same season since Ray Allen (12.6) and Doron Sheffer (11.9) in 1993-94. Prior to that, Corny Thompson (18.6) and Mike McKay (15.9) pulled it off in 1978-79. … Entering Thursday's action, Lamb was on pace to rank in the top three in minutes played per game in a season at UConn. He averaged 37.2 minutes, trailing only record-holder Kemba Walker (37.6, 2010-11). Tate George (37.0, 1986-87) is third.

g.keefe@theday.com

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