Six Wildcats Slated to Participate in NBA All-Star Weekend
CHICAGO – The Kentucky men’s basketball team will make its annual presence felt at NBA All-Star weekend in Chicago with six Wildcats participating in the league’s showcase of talent.
Headlined by the selections of Bam Adebayo, Devin Booker – who was added to the game on Thursday – and Anthony Davis to the All-Star Game on Sunday night, UK will touch nearly every part of All-Star weekend.
Davis, who was picked for his UK-record seventh All-Star Game, and Booker, who is making his first appearance in the game, will suit up on Team LeBron at Sunday’s main event. Adebayo, playing in his first NBA All-Star Game, will compete for Team Giannis. UK’s three selections are the most of any other college program and mark the fifth time in the last six seasons at least three former Kentucky players have been chosen for the NBA All-Star Game.
The game will tip off at 8 p.m. ET on TNT and ESPN Radio.
But that is far from the only action of the weekend featuring the Wildcats.
Things officially start Friday with the Rising Stars Challenge at 9 p.m. ET on TNT. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Tyler Herro and PJ Washington were tabbed for that game. Gilgeous-Alexander is making his second appearance in the game, while rookies Herro and Washington are first-time selections. Herro will not compete as he recovers from an ankle injury.
All-Star Saturday will feature Gilgeous-Alexander and Adebayo among the Skills Competition participants and Booker will make his return to the 3-point shooting contest. It’ll mark the fourth time Booker has competed in the event. He won the event in 2018 with a record 28-point performance on 20-of-25 attempts. All-Star Saturday night begins at 8 p.m. ET also airing on TNT.
Adebayo, who was a part of the 2017 Elite Eight and Southeastern Conference championship team, has transitioned in year three from a talented young big man with potential to one of the game’s best forwards. With a menacing combination of size and athleticism, Adebayo has formed a strong core in Miami that has shocked the league with a 35-19 start and a fourth-place standing in the East.
The 6-foot-9 forward is averaging a double-double for the Heat with 15.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, the latter a team high. Accentuating his versatility, Adebayo is averaging 4.9 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. He recorded his first career triple-double in December and already has three at this point. He’s shooting 57.9% from the floor.
In his lone season at Kentucky, Adebayo averaged 13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks with eight double-doubles. He tabbed to the All-SEC Second Team by both the media and the league’s coaches. He was also an All-SEC Freshman Team selection and a member of the SEC All-Tournament team after helping lead UK to the crown. He registered eight double-doubles with the Wildcats before being selected 14th overall by the Heat in 2017.
Booker, how in his fifth season in the NBA after going No. 13 overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, established himself as one of the game’s best scorers seasons ago. But with Damian Lillard pulling out of this weekend’s All-Star Game due to an injury, Booker finally got the much overdo nod to compete in the game. His numbers certainly warrant it.
Already the fifth-youngest player in league history to score 5,000 career points, Booker is putting up his most impressive numbers yet. He’s averaging 26.4 points, 6.3 assists and 4.2 rebounds for the much-improved Phoenix Suns while shooting a career-best 49.6% from the field to go along with 35.8% 3-point shooting.
Believe it or not, Booker never started a single game at Kentucky. As a member of the historic 38-1 team in 2014-15, Booker was Kentucky’s spark off the bench. He averaged 10.0 points and sunk 58 3-pointers en route to SEC Sixth Man of the Year and All-SEC Second Team honors.
Davis is in his eighth season in the NBA and first for the Los Angeles Lakers. In 2017, he won MVP honors at the All-Star Game on what was then his home court in New Orleans. Davis scored an All-Star Game record 52 points in addition to contributing 10 rebounds. He broke Wilt Chamberlain’s previous scoring record of 42 points set in 1962. He and the Lakers are off to a terrific start to the season as the Lakers are currently in first place in the West with a 41-12 overall record.
The 6-foot-11 forward ranks third in blocks (2.4 blocks per game), ninth in scoring (26.6), 14th in steals (1.6), 15th in total double-doubles (23) and 19th in rebounding (9.2). His player efficiency rating, a strong indicator of a player’s overall contributions and value, is at 28.40, which ranks fourth in the league. Midway through the season, he’s being discussed nationally as an MVP candidate.
Named the 2012 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player after leading Kentucky to the 2012 national championship, Davis has already put together a long list of accolades in the NBA during his short career. Among his most noteworthy achievements, he’s a three-time All-NBA First Team selection (2015, 2017 and 2018) and made the NBA All-Rookie Team in 2013. He was considered the consensus national player of the year in 2012 before being drafted No. 1 overall by the New Orleans Pelicans (formerly the New Orleans Hornets) in 2012.
After earning All-NBA Rookie Team honors a season ago, Gilgeous-Alexander is off to another stellar campaign. He’s averaging 19.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.2 steals per game for the surprise Oklahoma City Thunder who are 32-22 and in seventh in the Western Conference. This season, Gilgeous-Alexander became the youngest player in NBA history to record a 20-rebound triple-double. He had 20 points, 20 boards and 10 assists against the Timberwolves on Jan. 13.
Following one season with the Wildcats in 2017-18, Gilgeous-Alexander was selected 11th overall by the Charlotte Hornets before being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers where he spent his first season in the NBA. He was an All-SEC Second Team selection and was the MVP of the SEC Tournament during his freshman campaign with the Cats. He averaged 14.4 points, 5.1 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game. He scored in double-figures in 27 games and ranked third in program history for the most assists by a freshman (189).
Herro is off to a terrific start alongside Adebayo in Miami. He’s averaging 13.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in a reserve role for the 35-19 Heat who currently own the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. Herro leads all rookies in 3-pointers with 99 on the season and an average of 2.2 per game. He’s scored in double-digits 29 times, including a 27-point performance on Dec. 10 when he scored the team’s final 11 points in overtime.
He enjoyed a prolific freshman campaign for the Wildcats in 2018-19 where he was tabbed to the NCAA Tournament All-Midwest Region Team and was the SEC’s Newcomer of the Year by the Associated Press. He was an All-SEC Second Team pick and a Basketball Times All-Freshman First Team selection. He averaged 14.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game for the Wildcats who moved on to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament after he knocked down a game-winning 3-pointer against Houston in the Sweet 16. Herro was drafted 13th overall by the Heat in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Washington burst onto the NBA scene with a memorable opening night where he scored a rookie-record seven 3-pointers in his debut. For the season, he’s averaging 11.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game for the Charlotte Hornets. He shooting 46.3% from the field and 37.6% from 3-point range. He’s topped double-figures in 28 games and has four double-doubles on the season.
After spending two seasons with the Wildcats, Washington was drafted No. 12 overall by the Hornets in 2019. Washington was a consensus All-American during his sophomore campaign in the Blue and White. He was also a first team All-SEC selection and was one of five finalists for the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame’s Karl Malone Award honoring the nation’s top power forward. He led the Wildcats in scoring (15.2), rebounding (7.5) and double-doubles (13) during his sophomore season. For his career, Washington averaged 12.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. After making just five 3-pointers his freshman season, Washington drained 33 during his second season.
Kentucky has enjoyed unprecedented success at putting players in the NBA under John Calipari. In the 10-plus seasons of the Calipari era, 38 players have been selected in the NBA Draft, more than any other school. Included in the recent run are 29 first-round picks, three No. 1 overall selections (Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns and John Wall) and 21 lottery selections. A staggering 29 players from Kentucky were on NBA opening-day rosters (including two-way and inactive lists), the most of any school.
Calipari’s players are not only reaching the next level, they are succeeding when they do. His players have garnered 23 All-Star selections with the latest picks. Derrick Rose (from Memphis) was named league MVP in 2011. Five of his players have been tabbed All-NBA (Rose, Wall, Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Towns), three have been named NBA Rookie of the Year (Rose, Tyreke Evans and Towns), and 12 players from Calipari’s first nine teams at Kentucky have made the NBA All-Rookie teams.
Using figures compiled by basketball-reference.com and spotrac.com, Calipari-coached players only (which includes Rose but not Rajon Rondo) have amassed more than $2.26 billion in career NBA contracts. In the 10 seasons Calipari has been the head coach at Kentucky, his players have totaled nearly $1.9 billion in NBA contracts.
In just the 2019-20 season alone, UK players are slated to make more than $255 million. Calipari-coached players only (which includes Rose but not Rondo) will make more than $260 million.
Calipari has had at least one player selected in the top 10 of the draft in each of the last 12 seasons, dating back to his time at Memphis. No other school or coach in the country has had a first-round pick in each of the last 11 seasons. Calipari is the only coach in the history of the sport to have four players drafted No. 1 overall (Rose – 2008, Wall – 2010, Davis – 2012, Towns – 2015).
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