CHICAGO — Bam Adebayo didn’t initially hire an agent when he declared for the 2017 NBA Draft, leaving the door cracked for a possible return to Kentucky for a sophomore season. Soon after, though, he closed that door and made his professional pursuit official.
That came after a conversation with his mother, Wildcats coach John Calipari and UK assistant Kenny Payne. Calipari thought he was crazy to even consider coming back to school as a likely first-rounder and possible top-20 pick.
“He felt like I was doubting my potential,” Adebayo said Friday at the NBA combine. “He was like, ‘What’s wrong with you, man?’ He was like, ‘Go!’ I was like, ‘All right.’ ”
"It's Bam," Adebayo says of his name. "Edrice is the guy in the suit." pic.twitter.com/o1j62XLlCC
— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_SEC) May 12, 2017
And off he went. The 6-foot-10 Adebayo, who had a 7-2¾ wing span and just 5.2 percent body fat at 243 pounds during measurements here, said he’s already met with about 10 NBA teams in Chicago, including the Magic, Nets, Suns, Bucks, Hornets and Pacers.
He has long talked about wanting to make it as a pro so he can make life easier for the single mother who worked long hours to scrape by throughout his childhood.
“I just can’t wait for that moment,” Adebayo said, “when I can buy my mom anything she wants — at any moment in time.”
Calipari, the man who helped push him to make the jump toward NBA millions sooner than later, was in Chicago this week to support Adebayo. The coach took his former player to dinner Thursday and has been busy talking up the big man, who averaged a double-double over his final 13 games at Kentucky, to NBA coaches and general managers.
“It just shows he cares,” Adebayo said. “He’s doing anything he can for us, helping us get in better situations for our families.”
The 2017 NBA Draft takes place June 22, with two rounds of selections.