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UK's Briscoe declares for NBA, hires agent

By JERRY TIPTON The Lexington Herald-Leader

In a news release announcing he will enter his name in this year's NBA Draft, Isaiah Briscoe gushed about his two years as a Kentucky player. He saluted "the greatest fans in the entire world." He thanked his teammates -- "my brothers," he said -- and he thanked each coach, by name, on UK's staff.

"It was a dream to play in front of the BBN," he said, "and an honor to wear K-E-N-T-U-C-K-Y across my chest."

According to ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford, Briscoe would have been wise to continue this dream and honor another season or two.

"It's an uphill battle for him," Ford said of Briscoe's draft profile. "I actually think he'd be much better off staying at Kentucky. Not necessarily because he'll improve his draft stock, but because he'll have a chance to come back and win a national championship, and get a great college degree, and play two years of really high-level basketball under John Calipari."

That's not going to happen. In his announcement Thursday, Briscoe said he planned to sign with an agent, which will end his college eligibility.

"I'm ready for the next step," Briscoe said in the news release, "and can't wait to begin the next journey."

Briscoe is not among the 60 players Ford projects to be picked in the NBA Draft on June 22. Neither DraftExpress.com nor NBADraft.net mentions Briscoe in their mock drafts.

"I think his most likely scenario is maybe a D-League player," Ford said in reference to the NBA Development League. "And probably overseas is where the money will be. If that's what he needs and wants, then that's great. But I don't think it'll be the NBA."

Briscoe became the fourth UK player -- and the first non-freshman -- to announce the intention to enter his name in this year's draft. Earlier this week, De'Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo announced their intentions to be one-and-done players. All but Adebayo said they would hire an agent.

Of the four, Briscoe was the wild card. He entered his name in last year's NBA Draft. The feedback he received persuaded him to return to Kentucky for another season.

Typically straightforward in interviews, Briscoe acknowledged that he came to Kentucky with the intention of following the program's signature one-and-done formula: one UK season as a launching pad to an NBA career.

"I thought I was going to be one-and-done, but it didn't happen," Briscoe said late last summer. "That's totally fine. That's why I kept the option of coming back to school."

Briscoe's shooting as a freshman was cited as a reason he did not keep his name in the 2016 NBA Draft. He made only five of 37 3-point shots (13.5 percent) and less than half his free throws (57 of 124). Before the 2016-17 season began, Calipari set goals for Briscoe: 68 percent accuracy on free throws and 30 percent from 3-point range.

Briscoe came close to meeting those standards. He shot 28.8 percent on shots from beyond the arc (17 of 59) and made 63.5 percent of his free throws (94 of 148).

"I think he's improved," Ford said of Briscoe's shooting. "I just don't think he's improved to the point where a team is looking at that and saying, 'Yeah, we're going to draft a kid because he's a shooter and he's going to stretch the floor.'"

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