LEXINGTON, Ky. — Bam Adebayo joined fellow Kentucky freshmen De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk in declaring for the 2017 NBA Draft, the school announced Wednesday, with a caveat. Unlike Fox and Monk, Adebayo won’t hire an agent, meaning he can still change his mind.
He can participate in the NBA Combine and work out for teams to get more feedback on his draft stock before making a final decision. Adebayo has until May 24 (10 days after the combine) to choose between staying in the draft and returning to college.
“I feel like I’m making the right step in declaring for the draft, but I want to be absolutely sure that I’m making the right decision for me and my mom,” he said in a UK-issued statement. “I’m looking forward to the process and I appreciate the support of the coaches, my teammates and the fans. No matter what happens, it’s been an unbelievable ride.”
While Fox and Monk are both projected top-10 picks, the 6-foot-10, 260-pound Adebayo has less-certain draft stock. A former McDonald’s All-American, he began the season drawing Dwight Howard comparisons and was considered a fringe lottery pick — but he underwhelmed scouts as a rebounder early in his lone college season.
Something clicked, though, near the end of the regular season. Adebayo averaged 13.2 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks over the final 13 games, including five double-doubles in that stretch after just two in his first 25 games.
Now opinions on his draft status vary: ESPN ranks him the 19th-best prospect available, while Draft Express projects him to go 30th overall in the June 22 draft. That would be the last pick of the first round, in which case Adebayo might be better off coming back for a second season at Kentucky.
“This process we went through at Kentucky was a tough but rewarding one,” Adebayo said. “It was everything I wanted when I decided to come to Kentucky. It taught me a lot. It taught me how to be a better man on and off the court. I have improved so much since the beginning of the season thanks to the hard work of the coaching staff.”
Adebayo also thanked his teammates — “we were all like brothers” — and Kentucky fans, whose passion “is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.” Now those fans and coach John Calipari wait to see if Adebayo will become the Cats’ 21st one-and-done in the last eight seasons.
“Bam was our hardest worker this season,” Calipari said. “You’re talking about a player who can guard all five positions, has more perimeter skills than people know, and someone with size and a physique that immediately translates to that league. Bam is a great kid with a ton of upside. Should he decided to stay in the draft, he will be an outstanding four man in the NBA.”
And should he come back, Kentucky might be the favorite to win it all next season.
This one mattered to Bam Adebayo. pic.twitter.com/N4EtWvX9VP
— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_SEC) March 27, 2017