John Calipari made a quick trip from Colorado Springs, Colo., to Brooklyn to watch De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo get picked in the NBA draft on Thursday night — “graduation day” as Calipari often calls it.
Calipari spent the week in training camp with USA Basketball’s under-19 team in preparation for the FIBA World Cup this summer. But it’s no surprise the Kentucky coach found time to jet to the East Coast to get beside his players and in front of the cameras.
The trio of Fox, Monk and Adebayo added to the 28 draftees Calipari previously coached, going fifth (Fox), 11th (Monk) and Adebayo (14th).
“I’ve probably been on the phone probably 20 times today,” Calipari said Wednesday. “I’m starting to get an idea where they’re going to fall, but you don’t know. I’ve been at that table when I thought this but something else happened which made this happen which made this happen, and you’re sitting there,” Calipari said.
Before the draft, Fox was projected as a top-5 pick. Monk projected to go in the 6-8 range and Adebayo was projected to go in the mid to latter stages of the first round. Ultimately, all three were lottery picks.
“Literally, I told somebody yesterday, I am more anxious when I’m sitting at those tables than I am when I’m in the national championship game,” Calipari said. “National championship game, it’s like, ‘OK, we’re here, now let’s go have some fun.’ That thing, you have no control. In a championship, you know there’s other things that can happen, but you kind of prepared them. That thing, you’re just sitting there hoping they get drafted when you hope they should.”