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Cats in the NBA
Former Kentucky Players in the NBA
One of the best scorers to ever play for John Calipari is using the offseason to get better with the ball in his hands. During training sessions in New York City, Monk shared some of his pre-draft regimen with Draft Express.
Monk’s day begins at 8:00 a.m. Following breakfast, he’s in the gym by 9:00 for an hour-and-a-half, doing drills to perfect his game. The next stop is the weight room. Once his lift ends around noon, there’s lunch, then he’s back in the gym to shoot.
“It’s a fun experience to be away from everybody and just focus in on basketball,” Monk said.
He’s focused on his ball-handling. Projected as a point guard by many at the next level, he primarily played off the ball at UK while Isaiah Briscoe and De’Aaron Fox took the ball-handling duties.
“I’ve never been off the ball like that,” he said. “I’m just trying to tighten my handles.”
Watch him tighten up and exhaust himself in an intense pre-draft workout.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©June 02nd, 2017 @ 11:00pm
Coming into college, New Jersey-native Isaiah Briscoe was considered the No. 1 point guard in America over the likes of five-star guards Jalen Brunson, Derryck Thornton, and PJ Dozier. He was known as a floor general, a relentless defender, and a “bully” when it came to getting to the rim and scoring.
Briscoe was set to become the next great Calipari guard at Kentucky.
Once it became known Tyler Ulis would be returning to school for his sophomore season, fans knew the 2015-16 backcourt had the potential to be something special. When Canadian scoring phenom Jamal Murray came in fold in June, it was guaranteed the Wildcats would maintain one of the most talented group of guards in the nation.
Upon making his way to campus, however, Briscoe would quickly turn from five-star bully scorer to third option behind the dominant one-two punch of Ulis and Murray. Playing out of position for the majority of the year, he became extremely inconsistent, but still gave it his all.
After testing the NBA Draft waters and working out for several teams, Briscoe returned to school in hopes of showing off an improved jumper and success from the free throw line.
Fast forward to the 2016-17 season, it was much of the same. Two five-star studs in De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk manning the two guard positions with Briscoe left as the third option. He had his moments, he saved the team on several occasions, but he still wasn’t able to find his rhythm and become the dominant player he had hoped to be.
He’s officially gone from Kentucky, but his basketball career is far from over.
Here are three reasons why Isaiah Briscoe will make it in the NBA:
He’ll finally become the lead point guard
Let’s face it, Briscoe got the short end of the stick in his time at UK. How would he have known Tyler Ulis would return to school and become one of the best guards to ever put on a Kentucky uniform when he committed? How would he have known the best shooter in college basketball would come on the scene out of nowhere the way Jamal Murray did? Coach Cal never promises starting positions or playing time, but Briscoe fully expected to be the premier point guard.
The following year, he knew DeAaron Fox and Malik Monk were set to become Wildcats when he returned to school, but what choice did he have? He had abysmal shooting numbers his freshman year, and scouts said he had no business being in the NBA that soon. He had to make it work as a secondary option for a second straight year, and UK fans have to appreciate him for that. He gave a ridiculously young Kentucky team the veteran presence they needed, even if he wasn’t putting up mind-boggling numbers he originally hoped for.
In the pros, however, Briscoe will have the opportunity to come in and become “the guy.”
At Kentucky, his playing time as the primary ball-handler was scarce, playing off the ball on the wing the majority of the time.
Spoiler alert: Isaiah Briscoe is not a small forward, and he will never sniff the wing in the NBA. He did it at Kentucky to do what was best for the team, even if his own numbers and consistency suffered.
In the NBA, he’ll come off the bench or in the D-League as a point guard only. He’ll be able to do what he does best, rather than “making it work” as he did at Kentucky.
With the ball in his hands as the lead man, Briscoe’s game will change entirely, and his NBA career will thrive because of it.
Confidence will lead to better efficiency
The first two reasons go hand in hand, but both are equally important.
We all know Briscoe’s shooting woes from both the free throw line and behind the arc. There were times that any shot that left Briscoe’s hands beyond two feet was destined for failure. Before he got to Kentucky, however, the former Wildcat was actually considered a fairly impressive shooter. Hell, he even won the 3-point contest at the BallIsLife.com All-Star Game the summer before arriving on campus.
Without being the lead guy, Briscoe lost some major confidence in his shot resulting in major inconsistency.
In high school, Briscoe’s confidence was through the roof because he had the opportunity to be the head honcho. When he was able to get into a groove with the ball in his hands, there wasn’t a player in America that could stop him. Defenders were terrified of going heads-up with him because they knew their ankles were at risk to be shattered or put on the wrong side of a highlight tape at any given time.
Even coming off the bench in the NBA, just bringing the ball up the court on a regular basis as the primary ball handler and finding his groove will lead to a spike in consistency and confidence.
Zay will have the opportunity to be Zay again.
His game is suited perfectly for the NBA
Look around the NBA and find some of the most valuable role players on successful teams. Tony Allen on the Grizzlies, Marcus Smart on the Celtics, Jonathan Simmons for the Spurs, etc. They’re not the most gifted athletes, none of them are massive scoring threats, and they’re not going to kill you from behind the arc.
What do they all have in common? Defensive intensity.
If you can thrive as a defender with even mediocre offensive ability, you can make it in the league. Plain and simple.
Briscoe is a pit bull on defense and backs down from no one. Fans focus on his rough regular season matchup against UNC’s Justin Jackson, but Briscoe was one of the most consistent and tenacious defenders on the team. In many instances, he locked down the opposing team’s top option and fought on every possession with the help of his ridiculous 6’9 wingspan.
On offense, Briscoe rarely misses from around the rim, using his strength to get to the basket and finish in traffic. He made some frustrating turnovers throughout the year, but his knack for scoring the ball in the paint was second to none in college.
Take a look at former Wildcat Andrew Harrison. The Houston native was a solid college player, but fell to the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft due to shooting inconsistencies. Two years later, Harrison is getting major minutes and making impressive plays in the NBA Playoffs for the Memphis Grizzlies. He’s still not a deadeye shooter from deep or the most athletic guy in the world, but he makes up for it on defense and finishing at the rim.
Briscoe can easily follow a similar path.
According to DraftExpress, Briscoe is considered the No. 80 prospect in the NBA Draft and is expected to go undrafted, but don’t count him out.
Whether he is selected in the draft or not, Zay is going to turn heads in the league.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©June 02nd, 2017 @ 10:00pm
That. Just. Happened.
You thought Hamidou Diallo’s 44.5-inch vertical at the NBA Combine was impressive? Former Kentucky Wildcat Dominique Hawkins just beat it.
The 6’1 guard out of Richmond, KY posted a 45-inch vertical this afternoon, good for the highest of all NBA prospects this season. For comparison’s sake, Diallo’s vertical was considered the second best in NBA Combine history.
Watch the insane feat below:
— DraftExpressContent (@DXContent) June 2, 2017
At 45 inches, only eight other players in NBA history have posted higher verticals.
Wilt Chamberlain, Darrell Griffith, Michael Jordan, Zach LaVine, Jason Richardson, James White, D.J. Stephens, Spud Webb, Dominque Hawkins.
Hawkins has already worked out with the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Indiana Pacers, but interest is high from several other teams throughout the league.
The former Wildcat is set to host a Pro Day tomorrow where he will workout for a number of NBA teams interested in the former Kentucky defensive specialist. With evidence of his historic vertical out for the world to see, expect to see scouts flock to the event to see what the former Wildcat is all about.
It was also reported a few weeks ago that the Dallas Cowboys invaded Hawkins’ workout with the Lakers with interest of bringing him in for a shot to play in the NFL.
Of all the draft-eligible Wildcats this season, who would’ve thought it would be Hawkins drawing the major headlines?
After Enes Kanter revealed in a Tweet this morning that his father has been arrested in Turkey, Kanter decided to speak freely about the situation by issuing a statement through his website.
Try putting yourself in his position for a moment. It’s almost too difficult to imagine. His courage to speak out while under duress deserves to be commended.
Enes Kanter’s opposition to the Turkish government has caused him many problems and created many headlines.Kanter weathered the initial storm, evading deportation in Romania after Turkey canceled his passport, only to return to America where he’s continued to spread his message.
Now that message against President Erdogan, who Kanter so lovingly refers to as the “Hitler of our century,” has put his family in danger. Kanter says his father has been arrested by Turkish authorities.
MY DAD HAS BEEN ARRESTED
by Turkish government and the Hitler of our century
He is potentially to get tortured as thousand others
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) June 2, 2017
Kanter’s father Mehmet has been stuck between a rock and a hard place. Last August Mehmet publicly disowned his son for his political beliefs.
“I warned Enes before but he didn’t stop writing tweets against our president and the Turkish nation. As the Kanter family, we didn’t support his disrespectful sayings. Me and the Kanter family are disowning Enes. We want him to change his surname immediately. We want to say sorry to our president and to the Turkish nation for having a son like that.”
It seemed strange at the time, but now it’s apparent that Mehmet’s message more than likely was forced from the Turkish government. It was not enough to keep him from being imprisoned.
Kanter’s conflict with his home country’s government has been ugly. Let’s hope it gets better before it gets worse.
A pair of former Wildcats received the national spotlight before Game One of the NBA Finals.
In Jimmy Kimmel’s live pregame special, he brought back the “Mean Tweets” bit. A segment that can be a bit overplayed, this one is one of the best. Former Cats Karl-Anthony Towns and Devin Booker read social media criticism from fans with Hall of Famers Karl Malone, Magic Johnson, Shaq and many more.
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) June 2, 2017
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 31st, 2017 @ 10:15pm
De’Aaron Fox is about to become a very rich man.
According to the Vertical’s Nick DePaula, the former Kentucky superstar has agreed to a multi-year deal with Nike.
— Nick DePaula (@NickDePaula) May 31, 2017
With reports of Fox’s draft stock skyrocketing, there’s no surprise Nike was in a hurry to get a deal locked up sooner rather than later.
Be ready to see some signature Fox 1’s.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 31st, 2017 @ 7:30pm
When Derek Willis first made his way to Lexington, he became an instant fan favorite, as most local players do. Coming out of high school, he was considered a four-star prospect with several other D-1 offers, but opted to stay home and play in front of family and friends. He was able to live out the dreams of countless Kentuckians across the bluegrass.
Even with incredible support from the fan base, his “ceiling” was always seen as a future role player off the bench for the Wildcats. It wasn’t a knock on Willis, it was just believed to be reality with a new batch of five stars coming in every year manning the starting jobs.
To start his college career, “role player” may have even been a stretch. In his first two years at Kentucky, Willis averaged just 1.2 points and 3.35 minutes a game. He was given the “SHOOOOOOOOT” treatment every time he touched the floor.
Two years later, Willis became one of the most vital pieces for the Wildcats en route to an Elite Eight his senior year, receiving interest from numerous NBA scouts in the process. He averaged seven points, 5.4 rebounds, and an assist per game on nearly 50% shooting (38% from three.)
Even with a promising professional career coming up, however, Willis still wonders “what could have been.”
In an article by Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Mount Washington native admits he held himself back at Kentucky.
“I had the wrong approach about it,” he said Wednesday. When practice ended, “I’d just pretty much leave the gym and go with friends and do whatever. I could have spent another hour and worked on really anything. . . . I had the wrong mental approach about it, and I think that’s what held me back.”
When asked what he would have done differently, Willis said he should’ve worked harder early in his college career.
Willis said, “I would have stayed around the gym and worked out with (associate coach) Kenny Payne. Starting from my freshman year all the way till I was out of there. That’s one thing I really regret.”
Willis will participate in a pro day down in Miami, where he will compete with several other NBA prospects fighting for a shot in the league. Willis also has two personal workouts scheduled next week, one with the Boston Celtics, and another with the Detroit Pistons.
Playing in the NBA is certainly his primary goal, but Willis says he is open to playing overseas if need be.
“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “I just want to get better and be the best player I can be. If I have to take a different avenue for the time being, then I’ll learn what I can and play catch-up. I feel I definitely need to work on my body, so I can guard, like, the bigger fours.”
Willis certainly could have been a different player with more time in the gym training in his first two years, but it’s understandable. He saw a crop of talent in front of him his first two years and didn’t think massive playing time was in his immediate future.
That being said, I think the entire BBN can agree that Willis did more than enough for the Wildcats in his time at Kentucky both on and off the floor.
You can read Tipton’s entire piece here.
Isaiah Briscoe’s pre-draft workout tour continued today with a stop in Tarrytown, New York for a workout with the Knicks on Tuesday.
A native of nearby Newark, New Jersey, Briscoe considers Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony to be one of his friends and basketball mentors. Briscoe occasionally works out in Anthony’s Terminal 23 gym, and Anthony once told Adam Zagoria he absolutely sees Briscoe playing in the NBA one day.
As for Briscoe’s prospects with the Knicks, New York is in need of point guard depth and holds two second-round picks at No. 44 and No. 58 in the draft. Briscoe is currently projected to go undrafted, but maybe Anthony can put in a word and get his franchise to take a gamble on the former Wildcat.
The Dallas Mavericks would like to keep Nerlens Noel as its permanent center for the near future, but the franchise will have to cut a big check if it plans to keep him around.
Noel will be a restricted free agent this summer, and there are reports out there that multiple NBA teams are willing to give the former Wildcat a max deal for his services.
DallasBasketball.com writes, “A source from another NBA team (not the Mavs) tells me that there will be “multiple” clubs willing to pay Noel his max once he hits the restricted-free-agent market on July 1.”
So whether Dallas coughs up the big money to keep him around, or if another team gives him an offer he cannot refuse, it’s looking like Nerlens Noel will sign a very big deal this summer, somewhere in the neighborhood of $110 million over four years, at the very least. It could be even higher if Dallas gives him the max.
That’s not too bad for the kid whose mother, Dorcina, worked double shifts to make ends meet when Nerlens was a child.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 28th, 2017 @ 10:00pm
The focus is certainly on De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo, and Isaiah Briscoe when it comes to the NBA Draft, but Isaac Humphries is still taking a stab at making it in the league.
Last week the former Kentucky big man worked out for the Denver Nuggets and the Milwaukee Bucks, and hopes to get looks from several other teams with late second round selections.
Here’s a video of him dunking in Carmelo Anthony’s No. 15 during his workout with the Nuggets:
Kentucky 7-footer Isaac Humphries getting dunk drills in now. pic.twitter.com/S23WBbzxbA
— T.J. McBride (@BSN_McBride) May 23, 2017
DraftExpress released their scouting report on Humphries, with both positive and negative analysis of the former Kentucky big man.
Check out a few quotes:
Measured at 7’0 at the 2016 Kentucky team combine, Humphries has good height for a big man, to go along with a strong 260 pound frame, but his 7’0 wingspan and 8’11 standing reach are closer to those of a power forward than an NBA center ideally. His lack of length and reach hurts his ability to protect the rim from the center position and he does not make up for that with tremendous athleticism to compensate, often struggling with the quickness of more dynamic collegiate big men.
His best case to carve out a role looks to be to trim down his frame and try to improve his explosiveness while increasing his ability to move laterally in space to be able to play away from the rim.
Humphries is most comfortable inside the paint, with the majority of his offensive possessions coming from post-ups according to Synergy Sports Technology. He will certainly have to expand his game at the pro level as he is not a dominant post player but he can use his strength to back down his man under the rim.
Most of his moves end up with a decent look at the rim off of a right handed hook shot, but he lacks a counter move to keep the defense guessing and it will be difficult to score at the next level with his back to the basket without a more well-rounded arsenal of moves.
Humphries will certainly have opportunities at a two-way contract or D-League affiliate spot should that interest him. If not, being an Australian citizen will give him an excellent chance at finding a lucrative contract back home to expand his game in hopes of working his way back to the States one day.
At 7-feet, 260 lbs., it’s no surprise several teams are interested in Humphries based on size alone. As the common phrase goes, “You can’t teach size.”
He’s only 19 years old, and has shown spurts of massive potential in his time in a Kentucky uniform. If Josh Harrellson can improve his game enough to get drafted and earn minutes on an NBA roster, Humphries has a chance too.
It’s a long shot for Humphries to get drafted on June 22, but there’s little doubt he can find his way in the D-League and work his way up to the NBA once he develops his game a little more. Worst case scenario, he’s going to make a whole lot of money overseas.
Show them what you’ve got, I-Zack!
By Nick Roush on ©May 27th, 2017 @ 8:30pm
With the first pick in the NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics are expected to select point guard Markelle Fultz. That’s what is expected, but it could change.
Jordan Schulz of Bleacher Report shared some inside information about the former Kentucky point guard on Twitter: “There are multiple teams in the lottery who feel De’Aaron Fox — not Fultz or Ball — is the top PG in the draft. Continues 2 rise.”
If Fox doesn’t fly all the way up to No. 1, he still could surpass Lonzo Ball and head to Los Angeles with the second pick. According to Mark Medina, Fox will work out with the Lakers and the Sixers, who hold the No. 3 pick. The workouts are expected to take place between June 11 and the 17th, about a week before the draft.
Fultz has been the consensus No. 1 overall pick for months, but a lot can change before June 22.
Mock drafts are much more palatable now that we do not have see Hamidou Diallo in them. Normally I stick to Draft Express and Chad Ford, but on this slow news Saturday it’s time to broaden our horizons, starting with a mock draft that’s bullish on Bam Adebayo.
4. De’Aaron Fox – Phoenix Suns
8. Malik Monk – New York Knicks
14. Bam Adebayo – Miami Heat
I want to agree with this mock draft, but I can’t. Why in the world would the Suns draft another Kentucky guard? They already have seven (maybe even more). Monk probably won’t fall that far, and if he does, Lord help him. Getting drafted by the Knicks might be worse than a quarterback who gets drafted by the Browns.
While we’re at it, here’s a few more mock drafts from around the internets.
5. De’Aaron Fox — Sacramento Kings
8. Malik Monk — New York Knicks
28. Bam Adebayo — L.A. Lakers
3. De’Aaron Fox – Sacramento Kings (via trade)
5. Malik Monk – Philadelphia 76ers (via trade)
4. De’Aaron Fox – Phoenix Suns
6. Malik Monk – Orlando Magic
27. Bam Adebayo – Brooklyn Nets
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 26th, 2017 @ 12:00pm
Just when we thought Enes Kanter’s wild week had come to a peaceful end, his tough situation with Turkey has apparently just begun…
After being detained at a Romanian airport last week after his passport was cancelled mid-flight, Kanter eventually found his way back to the United States safe and sound.
Now, word out of local Turkish newspapers is that there is a warrant out for Kanter’s arrest, accusing the OKC Thunder big man of being a member of a terrorist organization.
According to this Yahoo article, the Turkish government feels Kanter’s association with Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen means he supports an armed terrorist group named Fethullah Terrorist Organisation.
Gulen has adamantly denied the existence of said group.
Kanter allegedly used an encrypted messaging app called Bylock, which the Turkish government believes was created for Gulen supporters. They also believe several of his social media accounts indicate he “praises” the terrorist group.
“You cannot catch me. Hahaha,” he said on Twitter. “Don’t waste your energy. I am already going to come to (Turkey) to spit on all of your ugly, hate-filled faces.”
During his detainment at the Romanian airport last week, Kanter compared Turkish president Erdogan to Adolf Hilter, and his dislike for the man doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
Once again, #FreeEnes.
By Nick Roush on ©May 25th, 2017 @ 9:55pm
Since the Lakers landed the second spot in the 2017 NBA Draft lottery, the De’Aaron Fox vs. Lonzo Ball chatter has been unavoidable.
Those in L.A. want to see the Lakers take the home town kid. LaVar Ball haters want nothing to do with him. In Kentucky, we saw what Fox did to Lonzo twice. For the BBN, the Lakers’ choice is simple. In an interview with Complex, Fox humbly denies the importance of his domination in their head-to-head matchups.
“People bring up the head-to-head a lot. If you were to go based off the head-to-head then why wouldn’t you pick me? But people don’t go off of two games. He had a hell of a season, I had a hell of a season. We’ll see where the chips fall.”
Still, Fox believes he’s the best player in the draft, period.
I feel like I’m the best player in this draft no matter what. But seeing the lottery and how things fell, I feel like I wouldn’t slot past five. And I feel like if I perform well in my workouts I could move up.
In a point guard heavy draft, Fox believes defense sets him apart from the pack.
“In college, I got to the basket whenever I wanted. I felt like I created better. Defensively, I feel like that really separated me. Those guys—Markelle is a great scorer, he’s able to distribute; Lonzo is a great passer; Dennis [Smith], his athleticism and being able to score is phenomenal. But I feel like defensively, that’s what sets me apart. But I can also create and I feel like I can create better than those guys and they’re all phenomenal players.”
De’Aaron discusses a variety of topics in the Complex interview, from his impending shoe deal to his meeting with Calipari before declaring for the Draft.