Thursday, April 19, 2012
Marquis Teague ready to add NBA player
to resume next to champion point guard
Of the five UK underclassmen that declared for the NBA draft Tuesday, freshman point guard Marquis Teague may have received the most outside criticism during the championship run.
It might come as some surprise then that Teague appears to be one of the first of the five to decide he was going to enter the draft.
“(I decided) a few days after the championship game,” he said. “We all talked about it, talked to the coaches and our parents. We all decided that’s what we wanted to do.”
Teague averaged 10 points and 4.8 assists per game while starting all 40 games during the championship season. His 191 assists were fifth most by a UK player in program history and the second most by a freshman. Still, Teague experienced his share of criticism, especially early in the year after UK’s loss to Indiana.
“Marquis Teague, early in the year was shaky,” said UK head coach John Calipari. “By the end of the year…let me tell you something, we won those last two games in large part because of how well Marquis Teague played.”
Teague averaged 11 points and four assists in the Final Four and scored eight points while dishing out five assists in the championship game.
“It let me know I came a long way this year from struggling in the beginning to the championship game, knocking down big shots, being a big-time player in a game,” Teague said. “Hard work takes you a long way.”
ESPN.com draft expert Chad Ford projected Teague to be selected with the No. 25 pick in the draft by his hometown Indianapolis Pacers. Most projections have him being selected late in the first round.
“I talked to my parents and Coach Cal. They felt like I did enough this year where I could be a first-round draft pick,” Teague said. “Coach Cal just told me I did a good job. I won a championship, I led the team. I just felt comfortable with what I was hearing.”
When Teague signed with UK he knew he would face comparisons to previous one-and-done point guards who played for Calipari, including reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose and 2010 No. 1 pick John Wall. Now Teague is following those players into the NBA one year after arriving on campus.
“It means a lot to keep the tradition going,” he said. “Coming in, working hard under Coach Cal, getting coached by one of the best coaches in the country, made me better every day. I’m just happy I was presented this opportunity.”
The year in college was invaluable, Teague said.
“You get more developed,” he said. “You get a chance to get coached by these great coaches that know what they’re talking about. You get a chance to put on more weight before you go play against those grown men. You get a chance to develop your skills a lot more.”
Despite the early-season criticism, Teague said he formed a deep bond with the UK fans. With his time in Lexington coming to an end, they are among the things he will miss about his short college career.
“I’ll miss the fans, but more than anything I’ll miss playing with these guys and playing for Coach Cal,” he said. “It was a brotherhood that we created. It’s just hard to let it go. We all know we’ve got to move on. I’m going to miss playing with these guys.”