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Keith Taylor: Once thought to be out of the lottery, Adebayo could be a first-round sleeper choice

Bam Adebayo isn’t considered a lottery pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft, but could very be a sleeper choice in the first round.

Adebayo, who averaged 13 points and eight rebounds per game for Kentucky last season, worked out for the Charlotte Hornets Sunday. Adebayo played at High Point Christian Academy in North Carolina. During his workout with Charlotte Sunday, Adebayo showcased his shooting from long range.

“I’ve been shooting the ball since I was 12-years-old,” Adebayo said. “I was always getting better. I wasn’t asked (to shoot threes) at Kentucky, because we all played our parts — we all sacrificed certain stuff. In these workouts, I can do what I want, so I show them what I can do.”

Adebayo was been projected to be chosen middle first round of the draft and some analysts have the 6-foot-10, 250-pound center going to the Indiana Pacers as the 18th pick in the draft. Charlotte has the 11th selection in the draft and Adebayo was one of six players who worked out for the Hornets on Sunday.

Former Kentucky forward Bam Adebayo is expected to be among the top picks on the opening round of the NBA Draft slated for Thursday in Brooklyn, New York (Keith Taylor Photo)

“Right now, everybody is stunned at how Bam shoots the ball,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “I must have 10 calls, like, I didn’t realize he shot that ball this way? What you also didn’t realize is that (Karl-Anthony Towns) shot the ball that way. You would think that if you’re following this thing, they all have to share, they all have to give up something for each other to be able to do what they’re doing here.

“They come here, they share and they become great teammates, they get challenged by each other every day in practice, which is why they go into the league and perform. They also understand (they have to) give a little bit (of their) game and you can still see it. That’s why I look at this stuff like Bam.”

Calipari has been hearing similar feedback on Isaiah Briscoe, who entered the draft following two seasons with the Wildcats.

“People are really impressed, more impressed with his shooting than a year a go,” Calipari said. “The thing that is driving me crazy he is a sophomore, he just turned 20. He’s played at Kentucky, he’s been through wars and he knows how to win, he’s improving his shooting and he can play. The game is changing right before our eyes and he’s fine.”

Read More at Keith's Blog

Read More at Keith’s Blog: Out of the Blue

Traditionally, the draft has centered around a team’s needs at certain positions, but Calipari said that hasn’t been the case during the past few years, which gives players like Briscoe more leverage in the draft.

“They’re not doing it that way anymore,” the Kentucky coach said. “(Now it’s like), can you play basketball, can you make plays, can you rebound your position? Can you space the court? Are you a good layup shooter where they can’t guard you? I think (Briscoe is) going to be fine, people are looking at him now and saying, ‘wow, he is better than we thought.’”

Calipari added the experience if playing for the Wildcats also is beneficial when his players make the jump to the next level.

“These kids are 18-years-old when I get them, some of them are 17,” he said. “Kevin Knox is 17. Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist) was 17, Devin Booker was 17. They walked into Kentucky, where every game is the Super Bowl, our postgame in Lexington has 20 cameras and 100 media people sitting (in the interview room) after (each game).”

All eyes will be on Calipari’s former players Thursday night in Brooklyn, New York.

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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