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With destinations determined, Monk, Fox, Adebayo eager to have an impact at the next level

By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

Now that the future is clear, De’Aaron Fox wants to be a franchise player. Malik Monk is set to take his winning ways to Charlotte.

Fox was selected as the fifth overall pick by the Sacramento Kings in the NBA Draft Thursday night. Fox will join former Kentucky standouts Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere and brings “leadership, a lot more youth” to the organization.

“It’s an extremely young team and (I’m) just a point guard that’s able to play on both ends of the court,” Fox said. “For me going into the NBA, I know it’s going to be tough to change a team, but for me I wanted to come in and be able to affect the game right away. A lot of people say I could be a franchise changer, and that’s what I really want to be.”

Fox added that he doesn’t mind being part of a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2006 and feels the Kings are on the brink of a breakthrough.

Former Kentucky guard Malik Monk said he brings a winning attitude to Charlotte. Monk was the 11th pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft. (Charlotte Hornets Photo)

“It’ll be different, but a lot of people are going through it,” Fox said. “A lot of people are going to a team like this and change it around and became championship teams. So that’s just one thing I want to do. I know it’ll take a few years. Nothing changes overnight. But for me it will be different. They asked me about that. But we’re just trying to steer this franchise in the right direction.”

Although Monk went lower than expected in the draft, he’s looking forward to joining the Hornets, alongside ex-Kentucky standout Michael-Kidd Gilchrist and Charlotte star Kemba Walker, a former standout at Connecticut.

“I’m a winner,” he said. “(I’m) always trying to win. Do the best I can to win and knock down open shots, any shot I can get, all the clutch shots. I try to make the best, and I’m going to learn, learn from the vets and listen to the coach and try to be the best player and best listener and learner ever.”

Monk thought he would get drafted by the Knicks in the No. 8 spot, but added he wasn’t overly disappointed in being selected by the Hornets.

“Nothing is disappointing about getting drafted,” he said. “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 also liked the idea of being around Hornets owner Michael Jordan and is comfortable relocating to Charlotte.

“I still can’t believe it right now,” he said. “I still can’t believe it. Maybe (later) I’ll believe it. But I think he’ll teach me a lot and I’ll take an even bigger step each year. Each year I’m going to try to learn as much as I can from him.”

Like his former teammates, Adebayo is looking forward to competing at the next level. Adebayo was the 14th overall pick in the draft and will join the Miami Heat, Adebayo said he will bring “athleticism, defense and energy” to Pat Riley’s squad.

“It’s going to be incredible,” Adebayo said. “It’s going to be fun. I’m a rookie, but I’m looking forward to it. Having Hassan Whiteside on my side, it’s a plus for me. I feel like we can get every rebound, we get more stops. You know, we bring a lot of energy.”

Adebayo wants to help the Heat build on last year’s success following a slow start. Miami finished the second half of the season with a 30-11 mark.

“(It’s) just like we did at Kentucky, everybody thought we were good, everybody thought we were going to be good,” he said. “So just building with the guys, getting to know them and just getting in the gym with them.”

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

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