BOZICH | U of L's Mitchell, IU's Anunoby join UK Big 3 in NBA first round
De'Aaron Fox was the 21st Kentucky player coached by John Calipari taken in the first round of the NBA Draft -- and the number should swell to 22 (Malik Monk) and 23 (Bam Adebayo).
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — For the eighth consecutive year, the University of Kentucky had a player taken in the first round of the NBA Draft. In fact, they had not one, not two, but three.
But the Wildcats were not the only local program to celebrate a first-rounder. Louisville joined the first-round party with Donovan Mitchell, and Indiana's OG Anunoby made it five former local college stars taken in the first round.
Mitchell, the Louisville sophomore, went 13th to Utah. Anunoby, who missed the final two months of the season with a knee injury, was drafted No. 23 by Toronto.
De’Aaron Fox, UK’s point guard, was taken fifth by Sacramento at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn Thursday night. Fox became the 21st first-rounder coached by John Calipari at Kentucky. Six picks later Malik Monk, his backcourt mate, became No. 22. He was taken No. 11 by Charlotte. Bam Adebayo was the biggest climber in the first round, going 14th to Miami.
"We're like brothers," Adebayo told ESPN. "It's like graduation again."
Mitchell was drafted 13th by Denver, although the Nuggets made the pick for Utah as part of a trade that sent former UK forward Trey Lyles from Salt Lake City to Denver. Mitchell was the highest drafted player from Louisville in eight seasons. Terrence Williams was taken No. 11 by New Jersey in 2009. Mitchell will follow the path to Salt Lake City taken by Louisville's signature player -- Darrell Griffith -- in 1980.
"I'm excited," Mitchell said. "They (the Jazz) were my first workout ... I'm so happy. I'm just shaking."
It was the fourth time in eight seasons Kentucky had three first-round picks in one draft. At 14, Adebayo went 5-to-12 picks higher than many analysts predicted.
"I improved my shooting," Adebayo said. "Everybody thought I couldn't shoot."
Fox averaged 16.7 points and 4.6 assists for the Wildcats last season. He'll join two other former UK players -- Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere -- with the Kings. Monk led Kentucky in scoring at 19.8 points per game. Monk slipped several spots from early projections that had him sixth. He'll join former UK forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in Charlotte.
"I'm speechless right now," Fox told ESPN. "I've been dreaming about this my whole life ... the work is just beginning."
Monk was a bit more disappointed. "It's shorter (later) than I thought," he said. "But you never know."
Mitchell became the 24th U of L player taken in the first round and the first since Terry Rozier two years ago.
“We’re all very, very excited for Donovan on being drafted in the lottery,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said in an e-mailed statement. “He put in a lot of hard work on his game and he’s receiving the rewards for having an incredibly strong work ethic.”
Anunoby went 10 spots later than several mock drafts projected, perhaps because of the knee injury. But he had the best line of the night. When asked how he planned to celebrate the moment, Anunoby told ESPN: "Get some cheesecake."
Washington point guard Markelle Fultz was taken first overall by Philadelphia. He was followed by UCLA guard Lonzo Ball, who went to Lakers. Boston took Duke's Jayson Tatum with the third pick. Josh Jackson of Kansas went fourth to Phoenix.
Thomas Bryant, IU’s center, was taken in the second-round by the Lakers. IU guard James Blackmon Jr. signed a free-agent contract with Philadelphia. Two other local underclassmen who made themselves draft eligible — Jaylen Johnson of Louisville and Isaiah Briscoe of Kentucky were not taken in the 60 picks over two rounds.
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