ARLINGTON, Texas - Julius Randle looked like somebody shot his dog. Dakari Johnson was so quiet he was barely audible. It is in these moments - about 20 minutes after Kentucky lost the national title game - you are reminded this is not the big leagues.
The NCAA Final Four may feel professional, and millions of dollars changes hands, but the players are still just kids.
"It really hurts," Randle said. "It sucks."
The Kentucky men's basketball team may be loaded with potential pros, and a lot of the top-tier football and men's basketball players may as well "be professional", but in the Kentucky locker room after the game you see they are just kids.
"I know people put is on a pedestal, but we're not 25," sophomore forward Alex Poythress told me.
A locker room after a loss in a pro game feels like a bad day at work. There is disappointment and sadness, but the raw emotion is not pervasive.
A locker room after a loss in a college game still feels like pain. These guys hurt.
Even if you are not a fan of Kentucky, don't much care for head coach John Calipari, there is no way to not feel badly for these guys. We may think they are all going pro and make millions, but the odds are never good for any player to do that. A long, lucrative pro career is a long-shot even for the surest slam dunk prospect.
Everyone in this locker rooms knows the score - a handful of these players will likely announce shortly they are going pro - but it doesn't make losing this game easy.
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