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Already a certain lottery pick, former UK guard Fox still working his way up NBA Draft ladder

By Keith Taylor
KyForward Senior Sports Writer

Former Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox got his chance to workout with the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this week. He is scheduled to workout for the Philadelphia Sixers this weekend and then it’s on to next week’s NBA Draft.

The Lakers have the second pick in the draft, while Philadelphia has the third pick. Currently, Fox is projected by many analysts to be the No. 5 pick by the Sacramento Kings, but that could change in less than a week.

Former Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox will be a lottery pick in next week’s NBA Draft, but where he ends up playing is anyone’s guess. Fox is projected by many analysts as the No. 5 pick by the Sacramento Kings. The draft is set for June 22 in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Keith Taylor)

Fox averaged 16.7 points and shot 52 percent from the field for the Wildcats last season, but struggled behind the 3-point line, making just 24.6 percent of his shots from long range. Kentucky coach John Calipari said Fox will be a great addition — on and off the court — to any team that drafts his former point guard. the Kentucky coach added that Fox’s three-point shooting “is the least of my worries with him.”

“What you get with him is an unbelievable personalty, will be great in locker room, knows how to be a great teammate, willing to share, will defer to someone else who has it going and he’s tough,” Calipari said earlier this week. “He will go in and get hit and banged (around) and he’s fine. What I love is, if you want to pick up and play a little bit, where they can’t run their offense down one top of you, he’s pretty good. He has a personality that will play in all these communities (in the NBA). That’s why the NBA is so hot right now, the best players are great guys.”

Although the Boston Celtics appear to have a lock on the top pick with Washington’s Markelle Fultz, Fox could be in play for any spot within the Top 5 and reportedly has a workout planned with the Sixers this weekend. Lonzo Ball of UCLA is reportedly getting a second look by the Lakers this weekend.

Calipari said the Sixers would be a good fit for Fox if Philadelphia decides against Josh Jackson of Kansas, currently considered the team’s No. 3 pick.

“I think, Philadelphia is on the cusp of a breakthrough, because they have guys healthy,” Calipari said. “Their guard play is good, but that’s probably an area that needs to be (improved). De’Aaron would walk in as more of a true point guard and be able to do some things that need to be done both on the defensive end and offensive end.”

In head-to-head competition against Ball, Fox outplayed the UCLA point guard in. The NCAA Tournament, scoring 39 points, compared to 10 for Ball in the Wildcats’ 86-75 win over the Bruins in the Sweet Sixteen at FedExForum in Memphis. Fox told reporters the matchup “didn’t matter” when it comes down to the draft.

“It’s college — you put that behind us,” Fox said. “Kyrie (Irving) was the No. 1 pick and Isaiah Thomas was the last pick. So you see how that worked out. They’re both playing extremely high level of basketball.”

Fox added that he had a good workout session with the Lakers. Jackson joined Fox and also worked out for Los Angeles earlier this week.

“I felt like I shot the ball well,” Fox said. “I showed I can play point guard, getting up and down the court. Even if I was fatigued, I felt like I could probably do it.”

No matter where Fox begins his professional career, Calipari said the speedy guard will pick up where he left off in the collegiate ranks.

“When you can make free throws and you can make 15- to 17-footers at a high clip, then you can make threes,” Calipari said. “There is nothing mechanically wrong. That’s why in the NBA, at the end of the day, there’s a lot of stuff that will be thrown out there. I was in that league and I know how that works.

“Guys trying to camouflage who they are taking, with the surprise pick. They reality of it, is, when you look at guys like De’Aaron, unless they’re trying to win in a minute, that should be the least of their worries. What you have is a long guard that can pick up 94 feet, be as fast as anybody in the league.”

Keith Taylor is a senior sports writer for KyForward, where he primarily covers University of Kentucky sports. Reach him at keith.taylor@kyforward.com or @keithtaylor21 on Twitter

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