It was a historic night for the Kentucky basketball program. First, Karl-Anthony Towns went No. 1 to the Minnesota Timberwolves, giving UK its third No. 1 overall pick in the last six years. That ties Duke for the most in the history of the draft.
Shortly after Towns shook the commissioner’s hand, Willie Cauley-Stein heard his name called at No. 6 to the Sacramento Kings. There was talk going into the draft that Cauley-Stein would slip out of the top 10, but the Kings selected him several picks ahead of where he was projected in the final mock drafts.
Then Trey Lyles and Devin Booker went back to back at No. 12 and 13, tying North Carolina’s record of four players from one team in the lottery. Lyles is now a member of the Utah Jazz, while Booker joins three other Wildcats in Phoenix. The new Suns backcourt features Booker, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Archie Goodwin.
We wouldn’t see another Kentucky player drafted until Andrew Harrison in the second round at No. 44 to Phoenix and then on to the Memphis Grizzlies in a trade. Dakari Johnson was the sixth and final Wildcat to go, at No. 48 to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Aaron Harrison went undrafted in the lone heartbreak of the night for Big Blue Nation. It makes things a little bittersweet, honestly. He will have plenty of opportunities to sign with an organization as an undrafted free agent, but had he been picked, Kentucky would’ve set the record for most players selected in one draft. Oh well. Maybe next year.
Here’s a look at UK’s six draftees:
Phoenix Suns (Traded to Memphis Grizzlies)
Oklahoma City Thunder
We will have a ton of discussion about each player and their futures tomorrow and on through the weekend, but for now, here are some very quick draft takeaways before I fall asleep:
— Philadelphia drafting three centers and two power forwards to go with Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid will forever be included in my favorite NBA draft memories. When most of the league looks to the Warriors’ “small ball” success, the Sixers said f*** it and went bigger. Trades will be made, obviously, but I’m holding out hope they keep everyone and start five centers. There are currently six centers on the roster.
— Willie Cauley-Stein will never play with DeMarcus Cousins in Sacramento. Sad, but likely true.
— I honestly forgot Utah still had an NBA team. Luckily, Trey can learn under great leaders like Karl Malone, Greg Ostertag and Olden Polynice. They’re still in Utah, right?
— Dakari Johnson and Enes Kanter in one frontcourt, yes please. Dakari lands on another championship-caliber team.
— Poor Montrezl Harrell.
— Memphis is going to love Andrew Harrison. It will take all of two weeks for him to move ahead of Nick Calathes in the backup point guard spot behind Mike Conley.
— Couldn’t be happier for Towns. Miss him already.
Good night, y’all.