Three Wildcats Earn NBA Season-Ending Honors
NEW YORK – Three former Kentucky men’s basketball players were awarded with NBAend-of-season honors this week, highlighted by Julius Randle’s inclusion on the All-NBA Second Team.
Randle earned All-NBA honors for the first time in his career, Bam Adebayo was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team for a second consecutive season and Immanuel Quickley made the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
Voting for the NBA awards was conducted by a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters.
With Randle’s inclusion on the All-NBA Second Team on Monday, at least one former UK player has made one of the All-NBA teams in six of the last seven seasons. Kentucky players have also made the NBA All-Defensive Team in six of the last seven seasons. A Wildcat has earned NBA All-Rookie honors in nine of the 11 seasons John Calipari’s Kentucky players have been in the pros.
Kentucky has earned nine combined All-NBA selections since 2015 from five Calipari-coached players (Randle, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Karl-Anthony Towns and John Wall). Including Derrick Rose at Memphis, Calipari has coached six All-NBA players in his college career. Fifteen of his former players at Kentucky have been named NBA All-Rookie.
Randle became the first former Kentucky player to win the NBA Most Improved Player award after leading the New York Knicks to their first NBA Playoffs appearance since 2013.
One of six players or coaches on the Knicks with ties to Kentucky or Calipari (Randle, Quickley, Kevin Knox and Nerlens Noel played for UK, Rose played for Calipari at Memphis, and Kenny Payne was an assistant at Kentucky under Calipari), Randle led New York to a surprising 41-31 record during the regular season and the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.
In averaging 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game in the regular season – all team and career highs – Randle became the first player in franchise history to average at least 24.0 points, at least 10.0 rebounds and at least 6.0 assists per game in a season. Only five other players in league history have ever recorded those numbers.
Randle finished the regular season with six triple-doubles, the most by a Knick since the 1981-82 season. He shot 45.6% from the floor, made 41.1% from behind the arc and hit 160 3-pointers after combining for 168 over the first six seasons of his career.
In April, Randle was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month following a dominating stretch that pushed the Knicks into the upper half of the conference standings. Randle was also named to the NBA All-Star Game this season for the first time in his career.
Although at a different level, Kentucky fans will remember Randle for his dominance during the 2013-14 season. Randle started in all 40 games for the Wildcats that season en route to one of the most memorable runs in NCAA postseason history.
Randle led that team with 15.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game and set the UK single-season freshman record in rebounds (417), double-doubles (24) and made free throws (204). His 24 double doubles also led the nation.
Randle was an All-America Third Team selection by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, U.S. Basketball Writers Association and the Associated Press in 2014 at Kentucky. He was tabbed the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year and was an All-SEC First Team selection. He was also a member of the Midwest Region NCAA All-Tournament Team and the Final Four NCAA All-Tournament Team.
Adebayo led the Miami Heat back to the NBA Playoffs for a second consecutive season after appearing in the 2020 NBA Finals.
After helping anchor a defense this season that allowed just 10.4 fast-break points and only 41.3 points in the paint per game, both the lowest in the NBA, Adebayo finished fourth in the NBA Defensive Player of the Year voting.
With Adebayo’s ability to guard multiple positions, the Heat also finished third in opponent field goals made per game, third in charges taken, fifth in points allowed, fifth in deflections and sixth in opponent field-goal percentage.
Adebayo was more than just a defensive stopper for the Heat. In his fourth season in the NBA, Adebayo, averaged 18.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks per game while shooting 57% from the field. He led the Heat in blocks (66), offensive rebounds (142), defensive rebounds (431) and total rebounds (573) while finishing second in steals (75).
Adebayo was a key part of the 2017 Elite Eight and SEC championship team at Kentucky. In his lone season at UK, he averaged 13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.5 rebounds with eight double-doubles.
Adebayo was 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 was selected 14th overall by the Heat in 2017.
Quickley’s meteoric rise over the last few years continued right into the NBA as a rookie. He continued his rapid ascension from role player at Kentucky two years ago to SEC Player of the Year last season to an All-Rookie performer in the NBA this season.
The 6-foot-3 guard took New York and the league by storm with huge scoring outbursts, solid outside shooting and a contagious energy that helped the Knicks to their first NBA Playoffs appearance since 2013.
Quickley averaged 11.4 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game and shot 38.9% from long range. He recorded 11 games with 20 or more points in his first season in the NBA, including a career-high 31 points in late January, the most points by a New York player off the bench in two years.
The 25th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft finished seventh among all rookies in scoring and first in free-throw percentage (89.1%).
At Kentucky, Quickley was named an All-American by several outlets after a breakout 2019-20 campaign. The Athletic, CBS Sports and Bleacher Report all tabbed the sophomore guard with All-America Third Team distinction.
Quickley was one of the key pieces behind UK’s 25-6 season in 2019-20 that led to the SEC regular-season championship. He scored in double figures in 26 of the 30 games he played in that season and topped the 20-point plateau in eight. Quickley made a team-high 62 3-pointers — including making a 3 in 28 games and 11 straight to end the season — and shot a team-high 42.8% from behind the arc after a slow start.
When the 2020-21 season began, a staggering 31 players were on NBA opening-day rosters (including two-way and inactive lists) played and finished their college basketball careers at Kentucky. Underscoring the fact that no other school in the country can match UK’s ability to develop players and put them in the NBA, UK’s 31 players were once again the most of any college basketball program, beating the next-closest school (Duke with 26) by five players.
Kentucky has enjoyed unprecedented success at putting players in the NBA under Calipari. In the 11 previous seasons of the Calipari era, 41 players have been selected in the NBA Draft, more than any other school. Included in the recent run are 31 first-round picks, three No. 1 overall selections (Davis, Towns and Wall) and 21 lottery selections.
Calipari’s players have entered the league NBA-ready. His players have garnered 23 All-Star selections, with Davis winning the game’s MVP honor in 2017. Rose was named NBA MVP in 2011. Six of his players have been tabbed All-NBA, three have been named NBA Rookie of the Year, and 15 players from Calipari’s first 11 teams at Kentucky have made the NBA All-Rookie teams.
Nine different UK players during the 2020-21 regular season eclipsed 40 or more points in at least one game, far and away more than any other university alumni can claim.
Using figures compiled by basketball-reference.com and spotrac.com, Calipari-coached players only (which includes Rose but not Rajon Rondo) have amassed nearly $3 billion ($2.96) in career NBA contracts. In the 12 seasons Calipari has been the head coach at Kentucky, his players have totaled nearly $2.6 billion in NBA contracts. In just the 2020-21 season alone, former UK players are slated to make more than $295 million. Calipari-coached players only (which includes Rose but not Rondo) will make just about the same thing.
Calipari and Kentucky have had multiple players selected in the first round of the NBA Draft in 11 straight seasons, the only program since the draft went to two rounds in 1989 to accomplish such a feat. 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).
For the latest on the Kentucky men’s basketball team, follow @KentuckyMBB on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, and on the web at UKathletics.com.