Friday, June 23, 2017

Three Wildcats Go In The 2017 NBA Draft Lottery... And Other Notes




In what has become an annual tradition for the Kentucky men’s basketball program, it was more of the same as three Wildcats achieved their dreams when they heard their names called in the 2017 NBA Draft. De’Aaron Fox (No. 5, Sacramento Kings), Malik Monk (No. 11, Charlotte Hornets) and Bam Adebayo (No. 14, Miami Heat) were selected during the 2017 draft on Thursday.

Fox is the 12th UK player since 2010 to go in the top seven picks. Monk and Adebayo added to UK’s lottery selections in the last eight years under John Calipari as UK’s mark reached 17. The trio taken in the top 14 of the draft upped the Wildcats’ first-round selections to 24 under Calipari since 2010. 

"Wow, what a night,” Calipari said. “We've been doing this a while now but this will never get old for me and I hope it doesn't for our fans. This is graduation night for our program. My stomach was in knots all night waiting to hear our guys' names called, but there is nothing better than seeing the overwhelming emotions come over our players and families when their dreams come true.

“I always believe our guys should go higher but they all ended up with great organizations,” Calipari said. “After all, there's no crying on the yacht when you get three guys in the lottery. I wish we would have had more guys get selected but I'm confident Isaiah (Briscoe), Isaac (Humphries), Derek (Willis), Dom (Hawkins) and Mychal (Mulder) will all get their shot. I'm proud of all of them and know they will all keep chasing their dreams."

The Wildcats have had more top-10 picks, more lottery selections and more first-round picks in the Calipari era than any other team in the country.

“I mean, it's extremely gratifying for me to be in that top five, and we already knew that this was going to be a pretty tough draft and it was pretty loaded at the point guard position, and for me to be up there is just a blessing,” Fox said.
In eight seasons with Calipari at the helm, Kentucky has churned out three No. 1 selections, 24 first-rounders, 17 lottery picks and 31 total players in the NBA Draft. The 31 draft picks is more than twice as many as the next school (Duke and Kansas) since 2010. With another surge of first-round picks, Kentucky has more first-round selections (37) than any other school in the NBA lottery era (since 1985).
Kentucky has now had 122 players drafted 124 times in its illustrious history with 47 players selected in the opening round.
“This has been my dream forever, and nobody ever from my town ever been drafted, ever made it this far, so I'm just thankful to be here,” Monk said.

It is the eighth consecutive NBA Draft that Kentucky was represented by multiple players in the first round of the draft. UK is the only program since the draft went to two rounds in 1989 to have multiple players selected in the first round in eight straight years. Calipari is the only coach to have multiple players selected in 10 consecutive NBA Drafts, dating back to his time at Memphis.
“(Cal told me) never doubt myself. He always told me, ‘Stay positive and everything will work out,’” Adebayo said. “I’m just blessed I could be here.”
De’Aaron Fox

Fox was UK’s first player off of the board when he was selected fifth overall by the Sacramento Kings. He’s the 10th player in program history to be selected by the Kings. With the Houston, Texas, native going fifth overall, UK has had at least one player taken in the top seven in each of the last eight drafts.

Faced with the unenviable task of replacing 2016 Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year award winner Tyler Ulis, Fox filled his shoes admirably this season and made his mark as one of the nation's fastest and craftiest players. He averaged 16.7 points, 4.6 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals, one of only four freshmen in the country to average at least those numbers in all four categories. Markelle Fultz (Washington), Dennis Smith Jr. (NC State) and Michael Weathers (Miami, Ohio) were the others.

A four-time Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week selection, Fox was named the most valuable player of the 2017 SEC Tournament after leading the Wildcats to their third consecutive title. In addition to All-SEC First Team honors by the Associated Press and the league’s coaches, Fox was named a third-team All-American by USA Today and CBS Sports.

Fox’s 4.6 assists per game was the best mark in the SEC and 11th nationally among freshmen. The Houston native also ranked fourth in the SEC with a 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio. His scoring average was sixth in the SEC and 10th nationally among all freshmen.

His 165 assists are the third most by a UK freshman in a single season.

Fox’s two crowning achievements this season are a toss-up. He posted just the second triple-double in school history and the first since Chris Mills in December of 1988 when he recorded 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a dominating victory over Arizona State. Perhaps saving his best for last, Fox scored a record 39 points in the victory over UCLA in the Sweet 16. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the 39 points are the most ever by a freshman in an NCAA Tournament game.

Malik Monk

Monk became UK’s second selection in the opening round when he was taken by the Charlotte Hornets at 11th overall. He is the fifth-ever selection by the Charlotte Hornets in the history of the program.

The Lepanto, Arkansas, native electrified crowds with his prolific scoring outbursts and high-flying violent dunks. He finished his freshman season averaging 19.8 points per game – second among all freshmen nationally – and reached double-figure scoring in all but two games.   

A consensus second-team All-American, Monk was also the Associated Press’ SEC Player of the Year and the SEC Freshman of the Year, as chosen by the league’s coaches.

With 14 points in the NCAA Tournament second-round game vs. Wichita State, he became UK’s all-time leading freshman scorer with 721 points, passing Jamal Murray’s output of 720 from a season ago. His record-breaking season ended with 754 points. That’s fourth all-time in UK’s history books, regardless of class, trailing only Dan Issel (948; 1970), Jodie Meeks (854; 2009) and Jamal Mashburn (767; 1992).

He produced 18 games of 20 points or more, including a Kentucky freshman record 47 points vs. North Carolina in December. Monk is the only freshman in program history with four 30-point games, and six times this season he scored at least 20 points in a half. In addition to scoring 37 points at home vs. Georgia and 30 in a half against Georgia, he hit the game-winning shot vs. North Carolina and the game-tying shot to force overtime in the win at home vs. the Bulldogs.

Monk made 104 3-pointers on the season, not far behind Jodie Meeks’ school record of 117.

Bam Adebayo

Adebayo was the third Wildcat selected in the lottery when he was picked 14th overall by the Miami Heat. He is the first Kentucky player ever taken by the franchise.

Like Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns, who developed at Kentucky and went on to become NBA superstars, Adebayo evolved into an unstoppable post presence as the season progressed. The 6-foot-10 freshman from Little Washington, North Carolina, was arguably UK’s most effective player over the last month and a half, averaging a double-double during the Wildcats’ late-season 14-game winning streak.

For the year, Adebayo averaged 13.0 points and a team-best 8.0 rebounds per game. He also led the team in blocks per game (1.5) and double-doubles (eight), including five double-doubles over his last 11 games. He was a member of the All-SEC Second Team and was also named to the All-SEC Tournament Team during his successful freshman campaign.
               
Playing in a guard-heavy lineup, Adebayo provided UK with its most consistent inside presence. His .599 field-goal percentage was the best among players attempting at least 100 shots for the season, and his 101 dunks on the year are more than any other Kentucky player under Calipari. Davis had 92 during the 2011-12 season.

Adebayo took his game to another level starting in February. He followed a 22-point, 15-rebound game at Missouri with an 18-point, 15-rebound effort vs. No. 13/12 Florida, accomplishing a pair of milestones in the process. His back-to-back double-doubles were the first of the season and put him in the team lead with five, while his back-to-back 15-rebound games marked the first such stretch since Jared Prickett accomplished the feat on Feb. 6 and Feb. 9, 1994. It was the first time a UK player had posted back-to-back games of at least 15 boards in consecutive SEC games since Sam Bowie on March 1 and March 3, 1984.

In the opening NCAA Tournament game vs. North Kentucky, Adebayo collected 18 rebounds, the most boards under Calipari in an NCAA Tournament game at Kentucky and the third most all-time in UK history in the tournament. Per ESPN Stats and Info, he became just the second UK player (Julius Randle in 2014) with a double-double in each of his first two NCAA Tournament games.

Draft Notes
·         Kentucky has had 122 guys drafted 124 times (Johnny Cox '58 and Roger Newman '60 both drafted in Jr. eligible draft, but returned for senior year and were drafted again).
·         UK has had 47 players selected in the opening round (24 have come in the last eight years) of the draft.
·         Kentucky has had 31 players selected in the draft over the last seven years, more than double the next-closest school (Kansas).
·         Kentucky has had 12 players selected in the top 10, 17 in the top 15 and 24 in the first round of the draft in the last eight years.
·         The Wildcats have had at least one player taken in the top seven of the draft in eight consecutive seasons. Since the lottery began in 1985, only two teams have had more than one player taken in at least four consecutive drafts (Kentucky, 2010-17 and Kansas, 2012-15).

·         Calipari has had two or more players selected in 10 consecutive NBA drafts dating back to 2008 with Memphis.

·         In 25 seasons as a head coach, Calipari has coached 42 NBA Draft picks, including 30 first-round selections with 15 of those going in the top 10. He has had 31 selected in the last eight years as UK's head coach, including 24 coming in the opening round.

·         With Fox, Monk and Adebayo’s selections in the 2017 NBA Draft all 21 freshmen who have declared for the draft following their freshman season under Calipari have been drafted in the first round.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Hamidou Diallo and PJ Washington Named To 2017 USA U19 World Cup Team




Kentucky men’s basketball freshmen Hamidou Diallo and PJ Washington were named to the 2017 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Cup Team competing in the FIBA World Cup in Cairo in July. UK head coach John Calipari is serving as the head coach of the team.

Team USA will be looking for its third straight title at the FIBA World Cup after capturing gold at the 2013 and 2015 tournaments.

The 12-man team was trimmed from 28 players who accepted invitations to training camp, which began earlier this week. The USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Committee issued the invitations. Athletes eligible for the team must be 19 years old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1998) and U.S. citizens.

Diallo and Washington are among the 12-man USA team that will compete in Cairo July 1-9 at the 2017 FIBA World Cup. Fellow Wildcat freshman, Kevin Knox, made the initial 16-man pool before removing his name from consideration after suffering a minor hamstring injury.

Another Wildcat, redshirt sophomore Tai Wynyard, is already headed to this year’s FIBA U19 World Cup. It was announced last month that Wynyard was named one of 12 members of the Junior Tall Blacks, New Zealand’s U19 national team. Freshman guard Shai Gilegous-Alexander was invited to try out for the Canadian team but opted to stay in Lexington train with his college team.

The 2017 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Cup Team drew Group D for preliminary-round games at the FIBA World Cup and will open against Iran on July 1. Team USA will then play Angola on July 2 and will cap preliminary round action vs. Italy on July 4 (game times are to be determined).

The United States earned its berth into the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup by virtue of claiming gold at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship.

Following the preliminary round, all 16 teams will be seeded according to group-play results and will advance to the July 5 round of 16. Winners will advance to the July 7 medal quarterfinals, while the remaining teams will continue playing out for classification. The medal semifinals will be held July 8, and the gold- and bronze-medal games are slated for July 9.

In the 12 previous U19 competitions held, the USA men’s teams have won six gold and three silver medals, including gold in three of the past four U19 championships (2009, 2013 and 2015).
All three Wildcat training camp participants had prior USA Basketball experience, with Diallo and Washington helping the U19 team qualify for this year’s World Cup.

After testing the waters for a potential entry into the NBA Draft in April, Diallo announced a month ago that he was returning to Kentucky. Although he didn’t play for the Wildcats after enrolling midyear, he is expected to be a leading returner on an extremely young team after becoming a vital practice player down the stretch of the 2016-17 season.

A top-10 prospect in the 2017 class before reclassifying, Diallo led Putnam Science Academy to a 38-3 record with an appearance in the state semifinals. The two-time all-state honoree averaged 19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his final full season of high school. He averaged 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds for the 2016 USA Men’s U18 National Team that won a gold medal at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Chile.

Washington, measured at 6-foot-8, 229 pounds, is rated as high as the No. 11 overall prospect in the class of 2017 rankings by ESPN. Scout and Rivals tab him at No. 14 overall and 247Sports ranks him No. 18. He was named to the All-USA Boys Basketball Second Team in March and played in the 2017 McDonald’s All American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic. He also won most valuable player honors at the inaugural Allen Iverson Roundball Clasic.

Washington started all five games and averaged 10.0 points and 4.0 rebounds for the gold-medal winning 2016 USA Men’s U18 National Team in Chile. The 6-8, 229-pound forward was also a member of the 2015 USA 3x3 U18 World Championship Team, which finished in eighth place in Debrecen, Hungary.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Kentucky 2017-18 Men's BBall Schedule As It Stands Right Now



Kentucky’s path for a 49th Southeastern Conference regular-season crown has taken shape with the announcement of the 2017-18 home-and-away designations for the entire league’s schedule. The SEC announced on Thursday designations for all 14-member institutions, including revealing the home-and-away opponents for each team.

As announced prior to the 2015-16 season, Kentucky’s permanent home-and-away opponents include Florida, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. This upcoming season, the Wildcats will add Texas A&M to their home-and-away slate for the second consecutive season as well as Missouri, which is highlighted by the addition of head coach Cuonzo Martin and one of the best freshman prospects in the country.

Kentucky’s home schedule will include the five aforementioned teams, as well as Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. UK’s lone matchups for the conference season on the road will come against Arkansas, Auburn, LSU and South Carolina. 

Times, dates and television information will be announced at a later date.

In early-season projections, Kentucky, Florida and Missouri are top-25 ranked teams. Twenty-four of ESPN’s top-100 recruits in the 2017 class have signed to play in the SEC, including seven with the Cats. The league is coming off a season in which its teams combined to go 11-5 in the NCAA Tournament and had three teams advance to the Elite Eight.

Kentucky has claimed at least a share of the last three SEC regular-season titles and five overall under the direction of ninth-year head coach John Calipari. The Cats have also won the SEC Tournament five times in the last eight years during Calipari’s helm, including each of the past three years.

With the announcement of the SEC home-and-away designations, the 2017-18 men’s basketball schedule has begun to fill in. Previously announced games in nonconference action include Kansas (Nov. 14), Harvard (Dec. 2), Monmouth (Dec. 9), Virginia Tech (Dec. 16), UCLA (Dec. 23) and West Virginia (Jan. 27). Additional nonconference opponents, as well as a detailed SEC schedule will come at a later date.


2017-18 Schedule
Nov. 14 vs. Kansas (Champions Classic) | Chicago | United Center
Dec. 2 vs. Harvard | Lexington | Rupp Arena
Dec. 9 vs. Monmouth (Citi Double Cash Classic) | New York | Madison Square Garden
Dec. 16 vs. Virginia Tech | Lexington | Rupp Arena
Dec. 23 vs. UCLA (CBS Sports Classic) | New Orleans | Smoothie King Center
Jan. 27 at West Virginia (Big 12/SEC Challenge) | Morgantown, West Virginia | WVU Coliseum

2017-18 SEC Home Games                                       2017-18 SEC Away Games
Alabama                                                                      Arkansas
Florida                                                                          Auburn
Georgia                                                                        Florida
Ole Miss                                                                       LSU
Mississippi State                                                         Missouri
Missouri                                                                      South Carolina
Tennessee                                                                   Tennessee
Texas A&M                                                                  Texas A&M
Vanderbilt                                                                   Vanderbilt


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Kentucky To Take On West Virginia In Morgantown for 2017 Big12/SEC Challenge



 Always one of the main events of the college basketball season, the Kentucky men’s basketball team’s draw in the annual Big 12/SEC Challenge will once again be an enticing one as the Wildcats will travel to West Virginia on Jan. 27.

It will mark the Wildcats’ third all-time trip to Morgantown, West Virginia, to play the Mountaineers and the first since defeating WVU 106-100 on Dec. 7, 1970. UK is 1-1 in games at West Virginia, but the Wildcats own the all-time head-to-head edge 15-5, including a 9-1 record over the last 10 games.

The last three meetings between the two schools have all taken place in the NCAA Tournament. The last game was in 2015, when UK rolled past the Mountaineers 78-39 and into the Elite Eight in Cleveland.

The 2018 slate of Big 12/SEC Challenge games will mark the fifth season of the annual event between the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 and the third straight season where all 10 games of the challenge will be played on the same day. A bye in the league schedule for participating teams was created to accommodate for the format.

Ten of the SEC's 14 teams will participate in the 2018 challenge against all 10 of the Big 12's institutions, with each conference hosting five games apiece. Each of the 10 SEC teams that will participate in the 2018 games will play in the 2019 event as well. The four SEC teams not participating will play each other in conference games the same day.

Four of the 10 games will be televised on ESPN, four on ESPN2 and two games will air on ESPNU. All
10 games will also be available on the ESPN app. ESPN’s College GameDay Covered by State Farm –
the Saturday roadshow that discusses the top storylines of the college basketball season – will
originate from one of the Challenge games.

Game times and network designations will be announced at a later date.

West Virginia, an annual powerhouse in the Big 12 and in the national polls, was among the top teams in college basketball during the 2016-17 season. The Mountaineers finished second in the Big 12, spent the entire season in the top 25, and advanced to the Sweet 16 before losing to Gonzaga, the national runner-up, in a heartbreaker.

The core of that WVU team is expected to return for the 2017-18 meeting, including the top two leading scorers in Jevon Carter and Esa Ahmad. West Virginia is widely considered a top-25 team heading into next season based on early national rankings. 

Kentucky’s nonconference schedule for the 2017-18 season continues to take shape. Already the Wildcats have games slated against Kansas (Nov. 14), Harvard (Dec. 2), Monmouth (Dec. 9), Virginia Tech (Dec. 16), UCLA (Dec. 23) and West Virginia (Jan. 27). Additional game announcements will be made at a later time. 


2017-18 Nonconference Schedule
Nov. 14 vs. Kansas (Champions Classic) | Chicago | United Center
Dec. 2 vs. Harvard | Lexington | Rupp Arena
Dec. 9 vs. Monmouth (Citi Double Cash Classic) | New York | Madison Square Garden
Dec. 16 vs. Virginia Tech | Lexington | Rupp Arena
Dec. 23 vs. UCLA (CBS Sports Classic) | New Orleans | Smoothie King Center
Jan. 27 at West Virginia | Morgantown, West Virginia | WVU Coliseum

2018 Big 12/SEC Challenge
Oklahoma at Alabama
Georgia at Kansas State
Baylor at Florida
Texas Tech at South Carolina
TCU at Vanderbilt
Oklahoma State at Arkansas
Kentucky at West Virginia
Ole Miss at Texas
Tennessee at Iowa State

Hamidou Diallo To RETURN To Kentucky



 Hamidou Diallo is coming back to Kentucky.

Diallo, a freshman guard, plans to return to UK for the 2017-18 season after going through the process of declaring for the NBA Draft. Utilizing NCAA rules that allow players to “test the waters,” Diallo entered the NBA Draft without hiring an agent to protect his NCAA eligibility with the option of returning to school.

Players had until 10 days after the conclusion of the NBA Draft Combine to make a final decision based on a rule between the NCAA and NBA so long as the player didn’t hire an agent. That deadline was Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

With only minutes to spare, Diallo informed UK of his intention to come back to school. He will join Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Tai Wynyard, Brad Calipari, Jonny David and Dillon Pulliam as 2017-18 returners.

“First of all, I want to thank the Big Blue Nation for your support,” Diallo said. “I've only been a Wildcat for five months, but you have already made me one of your own. I know not everyone understood my original decision -- but everyone has been supportive. Thank you for that. 

“The one thing I've learned through this whole process is how grateful I am that I came to the University of Kentucky. Coach Cal and the staff have had my back throughout this entire journey. They were honest with me from the start, had my best interests at heart and walked me through every step. I couldn't have asked for a better support system.

“I also want to thank the university for understanding how important this decision was to me. This is something I had to do for me and my family, and the school has been supportive of us the whole way. Just so everyone knows, I always planned to pay the school back for my spring tuition for allowing me to enroll last semester because I never thought I would be in this position. If I knew I was leaving after the semester, I would have played to help the team.

“Like I said when I submitted my name for the draft, playing in the NBA has always been my ultimate goal. When I enrolled in school in January, my plan was to come to Kentucky to work on my game and to focus on academics. At the end of the season, I knew I wanted to see where I was in the draft process so I could get a proper evaluation.

“That plan still hasn't changed. I hope to play in the NBA one day -- just not this season. Based on the information I received by testing the waters, I believe it's in my best interests to return to school. Although I was a part of the team last season and trained with my teammates, I never fulfilled another one of my dreams, which was to play for a major college program and win a national title. I am excited about returning to Kentucky for the 2017-18 season. I can't wait to play in a Kentucky jersey for the first time.”

Diallo will return in a unique situation as one of the team’s leaders. Although he didn’t play in 2016-17, he became an important player in practice after reclassifying and enrolling at Kentucky in January. In recent interviews at the NBA Draft Combine, former teammates De’Aaron Fox and Isaiah Briscoe raved about Diallo’s defensive presence in practice as the Wildcats went on to win both the Southeastern Conference regular-season and tournament titles before advancing to the Elite Eight. 

With five underclassmen entering their names in the NBA Draft (Fox, Briscoe, Bam Adebayo, Malik Monk and Isaac Humphries) and three graduating seniors (Dominique Hawkins, Mychal Mulder and Derek Willis), Kentucky will be tasked with replacing 92.6 percent of its scoring and 76.6 percent of its rebounding from the 2016-17 team.

Reinforcements will be on the way in the form of the nation’s No. 1 ranked recruiting class (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jemarl Baker, Quade Green, Kevin Knox, Nick Richards, Jarred Vanderbilt and P.J. Washington), but Diallo’s return will add some experience to what will be one of John Calipari’s youngest teams yet.

“I’m really proud of Hami,” head coach John Calipari said. “He took in all the information, asked a lot of questions, including questions to the NBA teams. I love the fact that he wants to put himself in a better position and help lead this new team to a championship. I can’t wait to get him on the court and have all of you fans see what I know. He’s a special player and a special person.”

Diallo will be a leading returner alongside Gabriel, Killeya-Jones and Wynyard. Gabriel is UK’s leading statistical returner from last season after averaging 4.6 points and 4.8 boards as a freshman, including seven games in double figures. He boasted a 23-point performance against LSU and also hauled in 16 rebounds against Auburn which were the most for any UK player at the time since 2014. Killeya-Jones had 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting against UT Martin and 10 blocks over his first nine career games. Wynyard, the youngest player to ever suit up for the New Zealand National Team, appeared in 15 games a season ago for the Cats and adds a bruising inside presence with experience in the program.
  
Diallo enrolled at Kentucky in January after graduating from Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut in May. A top-10 prospect in the 2017 class before reclassifying, The 6-foot-5 guard from Queens, New York, practiced with the team and was eligible to play in games, but he opted not to play this season in order to adapt to college competition, develop his game and focus on his academics.

A high-flying, high-scoring guard who excels at getting to the basket, Diallo is considered a long, athletic wing with a potential to be a lockdown defender. Before reclassifying last season, he was rated as high as No. 9 (247 Sports) and no lower than No. 11 (ESPN) among the major recruiting services. Both 247Sports and Scout considered him the No. 1 shooting guard in the 2017 class.

In his final full season in high school, in 2015-16, Diallo led Putnam Science Academy to a 38-3 record with an appearance in the state semifinals. The two-time all-state honoree averaged 19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his senior season before graduating in the fall. He averaged 17.0 points and 4.0 rebounds as a junior.

Diallo was also a key member of the 2016 USA Men’s U18 National Team that won a gold medal at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in July in Chile, where he averaged 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds for Team USA.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Kentucky Men's Basketball To Host Virginia Tech



 The Kentucky men’s basketball team will play Virginia Tech during the 2017-18 season.

The Wildcats will host the Hokies on Dec. 16 at Rupp Arena as part of a one-year deal with the Atlantic Coast Conference member. The meeting will be the first between the two programs since 1996, when UK defeated Virginia Tech 84-60 in the NCAA Tournament in Dallas.

Kentucky owns a 3-1 all-time edge over Virginia Tech. The Wildcats have hosted the Hokies in Lexington twice before, splitting the two games, but next season’s matchup will be the first between the two schools in Rupp Arena. 

Virginia Tech went 22-11 last season and reached the NCAA Tournament in Buzz Williams’ third season in Blacksburg, Virginia. The Hokies are expected to return six of their top eight leading scorers from that team.

Kentucky’s nonconference schedule for the 2017-18 season is beginning to take shape. Already the Wildcats have games slated against Kansas (Nov. 14), Harvard (Dec. 2), Monmouth (Dec. 9), Virginia Tech (Dec. 16) and UCLA (Dec. 23). Additional game announcements will be made at a later time. 


2017-18 Nonconference Schedule
Nov. 14 vs. Kansas (Champions Classic) | Chicago | United Center
Dec. 2 vs. Harvard | Lexington | Rupp Arena
Dec. 9 vs. Monmouth (Citi Double Cash Classic) | New York | Madison Square Garden
Dec. 16 vs. Virginia Tech | Lexington | Rupp Arena
Dec. 23 vs. UCLA (CBS Sports Classic) | New Orleans | Smoothie King Center


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Bam Adebayo To Hire Agent; Forgoes Remaining Eligibility



Kentucky men basketball freshman forward Bam Adebayo announced Tuesday he will officially hire an agent and remain in the 2017 NBA Draft, forgoing his remaining eligibility at Kentucky.

“After talking with Coach Cal, the staff and my family, I have decided it’s in my best interest to remain in the draft,” Adebayo said.

“This process we went through at Kentucky was a tough but a rewarding one. It was everything I wanted when I decided to come to Kentucky. It taught me a lot. It taught me how to be a better man on and off the court. I have improved so much since the beginning of the season thanks to the hard work of the coaching staff. They helped me with every step of the process along the way and they never gave up on me.

“I also want to thank my teammates. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to grow with. We were all like brothers. I also want to thank the fans for their support and everything they do for us. Their passion is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

Adebayo is the fifth underclassman to hire an agent, joining sophomores Isaiah Briscoe and Isaac Humphries and fellow freshmen De’Aaron Fox and Malik MonkFreshman Hamidou Diallo has also declared for the draft, but has not hired an agent.

Like Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns, who developed at Kentucky and went on to become NBA superstars, Adebayo evolved into an unstoppable post presence as the season progressed. The 6-foot-10 freshman from Little Washington, North Carolina, was arguably UK’s most effective player over the last month and a half, averaging a double-double during the Wildcats’ late-season 14-game winning streak.

For the year, Adebayo averaged 13.0 points and a team-best 8.0 rebounds per game. He also led the team in blocks per game (1.5) and double-doubles (eight), including five double-doubles over his last 11 games. He was a member of the All-Southeastern Conference Second Team and was also named to the All-SEC Tournament Team during his successful freshman campaign.
                
Playing in a guard-heavy lineup, Adebayo provided UK with its most consistent inside presence. His .599 field-goal percentage was the best among players attempting at least 100 shots for the season, and his 101 dunks on the year are more than any other Kentucky player under Calipari. Davis had 92 during the 2011-12 season.

Adebayo took his game to another level starting in February. He followed a 22-point, 15-rebound game at Missouri with an 18-point, 15-rebound effort vs. No. 13/12 Florida, accomplishing a pair of milestones in the process. His back-to-back double-doubles were the first of the season and put him in the team lead with five, while his back-to-back 15-rebound games marked the first such stretch since Jared Prickett accomplished the feat on Feb. 6 and Feb. 9, 1994. It was the first time a UK player had posted back-to-back games of at least 15 boards in consecutive SEC games since Sam Bowie on March 1 and March 3, 1984.

In the opening NCAA Tournament game vs. North Kentucky, Adebayo collected 18 rebounds, the most boards under Calipari in an NCAA Tournament game at Kentucky and the third most all-time in UK history in the tournament. Per ESPN Stats and Info, he became just the second UK player (Julius Randle in 2014) with a double-double in each of his first two NCAA Tournament games.

Since Calipari joined the Wildcat program for the 2009-10 season, UK has produced 28 NBA Draft picks over seven seasons, more than double any other school. Included in the 28 are 21 first-round selections, three No. 1 overall picks, 11 top-10 selections and 14 lottery picks.   

Of the 18 players in the Calipari era who declared for the NBA Draft after one season at Kentucky, all 18 were drafted in the first round.