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Sacramento Kings grab UK’s Fox with No. 5 pick, Monk selected 11th by Hornets in NBA Draft


By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

It didn’t take long for De’Aaron Fox to hear his name called during the NBA Draft Thursday night in Brooklyn. Former teammate Malik Monk wasn’t too far behind after waiting longer than expected.

Fox, the former Kentucky point guard was the fifth pick of the draft and was chosen by Sacramento Kings. Monk also was a first-round selection and was taken 11th overall by the Charlotte Hornets.

Three picks later, the Miami Heat took Bam Adebayo as the 14th overall pick in the draft, giving the Cats three of the Top 15 selections in the draft. Adebayo was picked a little early than most mock drafts had predicted.

De’Aaron Fox was the No. 5 pick by the Sacramento Kings in the NBA Draft Thursday night in Brooklyn, New York. Malik Monk was chosen 11th by the Charlotte Hornets (NBA Photo)

“It’s gratifying,” Fox said following the selection. “I can’t even describe it. I’m speechless.”

Fox averaged 16.7 points for the Wildcats last season and scored a freshman record 39 points in an 86-75 win over UCLA in the Sweet Sixteen. He made 13 of 20 shots in a head-to-head matchup against Lone Ball and made all but two of his 15 shots from the charity stripe.

Prior to his outburst against the Bruins, Fox recorded the second triple-double in Kentucky history with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against Arizona State in the Bahamas. Fox was named Most Valuable Player in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

“The biggest thing with De’Aaron was the leadership that he (showed) — early on, he didn’t try to come in and say, ‘this is my program,’” Calipari said. “But about two months in, we’re playing games and I look at him and I said, ‘hey kid, this is your team. You’re my point guard. You’re it. Go do your thing.’ And I think he became more challenged and more comfortable taking over (the team).”

More than his scoring and defensive attributes, Fox is known for his quickness. Calipari said Fox’s asset at the next level will be his speed on both ends of the floor.

“When you have that — and he’s really good at pick-and-rolls — he’s on the scouting report,” the Kentucky coach said. “How do we play this? How are we going to guard this when in transition? With the ball in his hands, you have to get back in the lane, because he’s coming.”

Like Fox, Monk enjoyed a superb season with the Wildcats and led the team in scoring with 21.2 points per game. Monk, the SEC Player of the Year, scored 47 points in a 103-100 win over eventual national champion North Carolina in the CBS Sports Classic at Las Vegas. Monk was the first freshman to win the league scoring title since 1989 when Chris Jackson accomplished the feat at LSU.

“What Malik is, (is) an elite, special athlete (and) talent,” Calipari said. “When he gets in a zone and he just locks it down, you just kind of sit there and say, ‘Oh my goodness.’ Like North Carolina when he had 47 (points) and I’m telling him to drive the ball and he shoots a three and it goes down, doesn’t even hit anything – net or anything – just goes straight down.”

Prior to this year’s draft, Calipari had produced 21 first-round draft picks, including three top picks. John Wall was drafted first in the 2010 draft, while Anthony Davis was the top selection two years later in 2012. Karl-Anthony Towns was the first pick two years ago.

Kentucky has had a player selected in the first round for the past eight seasons, tying UCLA for the longest streak in the modern era.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz was the top pick in the draft by the Philadelphia Sixers, followed by UCLA’s Lonzo Ball by the Lakers, and Duke forward Jayson Tatum to the Celtics. Kansas forward Josh Jackson was chosen fourth by the Phoenix Suns.

Donovan Mitchell, a sophomore guard for the University of Louisville last season, was selected by the Denver Nuggets with the 13th pick overall in the first round. He is expected to be sent to the Utah Jazz in a trade.

“We’re all very, very excited for Donovan on being drafted in the lottery,” said UofL men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino. “He put in a lot of hard work on his game and he’s receiving the rewards for having an incredibly strong work ethic.”

Louisville has produced 24 first-round NBA Draft choices, including 11 in the top ten and five among the top three picks (Pervis Ellison first in 1989; Wes Unseld second in 1968; Darrell Griffith second in 1980; Charlie Tyra second in 1957; Rodney McCray third in 1983).

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. He can be reached by email at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com.


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