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UK takes over draft night, again

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Karl-Anthony Towns poses with fellow draft picks before going No. 1 in Thursday's NBA Draft. (Barry Williams, UK Athletics) Karl-Anthony Towns poses with fellow draft picks before going No. 1 in Thursday's NBA Draft. (Barry Williams, UK Athletics)
The NBA Draft is known for its twists and turns.

There are more mock drafts than can be counted beforehand, mock drafts that are immediately busted by surprise picks and trades.

Really, there's only one given on draft night these days, other than unpredictability.


At Thursday night's NBA Draft, UK once again took center stage. Six Wildcats heard their names called, tying a common draft-era record most recently achieved by Kentucky in 2012. UK has now had 25 draft picks in the last six years.

"Six guys get drafted and tie a record, four lottery picks and another No. 1 pick -- it's been another unbelievable night," Calipari said. "I'm proud of the guys. Our job as coaches is to help these kids realize their dreams. I'm so happy that a lot of lives were changed tonight."

As expected, Karl-Anthony Towns was taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the No. 1 overall pick. Towns is the third UK player taken with the top pick in John Calipari's six seasons and Coach Cal's fourth top pick overall, joining Anthony Davis (2012), John Wall (2010) and Derrick Rose (2008). Both are also common draft-era records.

"This is awesome, to have this moment be cherished where I'm from," said Towns, who took the stage not far from his home in Piscataway, N.J. "It's been a long road to get to this spot today, but with a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication, a lot of hours in the gym, a great support system that I've been fortunate and blessed to have, this moment has finally arrived."

Many experts forecasted Towns' teammate, Willie Cauley-Stein, would have to wait a while longer for his own moment. Mock drafts pegged the 7-footer's stock as slipping entering draft night, but Cauley-Stein paid the talk little mind.

"I wasn't nervous at all," Cauley-Stein said. "I'm a strong believer in whatever happens, happens. I was just riding the wave. Wherever I got picked up, that's the place I was supposed to be at."

He was rewarded for his approach.

Cauley-Stein was the second Wildcat off the board, heading to Sacramento to join fellow former UK big man DeMarcus Cousins as the No. 6 pick.

"To learn under Boogie and being in an organization that's up and coming, a lot of young guys, it's just cool," Cauley-Stein said.

Trey Lyles will join Cauley-Stein in heading west, becoming the No. 12 overall pick when he was chosen by the Utah Jazz. The 6-foot-10 forward, termed by Coach Cal as UK's "X-factor" throughout a 38-1 season, believes he will surprise his new fans with a diverse game of which he only showed glimpses in a single season at Kentucky when he reaches the next level.

"My playmaking ability offensively," Lyles said. "I didn't need to do a lot of it at (Kentucky) because we had it at other positions, but now I'm on another level and I'll be able to do more."

Devin Booker, on other hand, won't sneak up on anyone with his offensive ability. The shooting guard was taken just a pick after his UK classmate by the Phoenix Suns on the strength of his pure shooting stroke, but he looks forward to showing off a multi-faceted game.

"At Kentucky, we had a really talented team," Booker said. "I fit in really well with the team and found my niche. I'll have to create more for myself. I think I'm surprising people with my athleticism. Just stay tuned."

Though he's leaving his 2014-15 teammates, his new running mates have a distinct Kentucky feel of their own. The Suns' backcourt features former Wildcats Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe and Archie Goodwin.

"I'm loving it," Booker said. "Big Blue Nation everywhere. I wouldn't want it any other way."

After Booker's selection -- which gave UK a record-tying four lottery picks -- there would be a bit of a wait. When it was over, it looked like another Kentucky guard was headed to the desert. The Suns took Andrew Harrison with the No. 44 pick, but news quickly leaked that he would head to Memphis in exchange for Jon Leuer.

Four picks later, UK tied that 2012 record when Dakari Johnson was taken by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

That left only Aaron Harrison as undrafted among the seven Wildcats eligible, but Coach Cal is confident the clutch shooting guard will get his chance and capitalize.

"I'm disappointed that Aaron didn't get drafted, but he will be fine," Calipari said. "I will tell you that he will be on a summer league team and fighting for a position on an NBA team. My guess is he will be on an opening-season roster even though he wasn't drafted."

Calipari, there in Brooklyn to support his former pupils, watched as Kentucky made history once again. Though the competitive portion of UK's 2014-15 season ended in a fourth Final Four trip in five years less than three months ago, Thursday marked its true conclusion.

"We want to win, but not at the expense of these kids," Calipari said. "I want them to benefit more than the program. That's what I want this to be. When the seasons over, you want to say, 'They got more out of this than we did, I did, or the program did.' If anyone wants to question me with results, please say it publicly. Final Fours, wins, and all of this stuff that we do, but it's not about that. It's about these kids."

The whole process begins again soon.

Draft night social media round-up

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It's NBA Draft night, which means it's one of the busiest days of the year for Kentucky basketball. Add in the fact that seven Wildcats could hear their names called and it's almost impossible to keep up. That's why we're compiling the best tweets and more from throughout the night right here.

Wrapping it up

Johnson picked by Thunder, UK ties record

Andrew Harrison selected in the second round

Booker makes it four lottery picks

Lyles picked by the Utah Jazz

Willie joins Boogie in Sacramento

Towns goes No. 1


@ukcoachcalipari and @karlito_towns Selfie game too strong!

A photo posted by Karl Towns (@karltowns) on

The draft is tonight

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7 p.m. ET, ESPN. We'll have coverage all night.

Video: Coach Cal's summer press conference

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(2) Houston Rockets (Terrence Jones) vs. (3) Los Angeles Clippers

Game 1 of the first Western Conference Semifinals of Jones' career will tip off in Houston at 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT. Jones scored 15 points and grabbed five rebounds in the Rockets' 103-94 Game 5 victory over the Dallas Mavericks last Tuesday. The Clippers and Rockets split the regular season series, 2-2, with Houston claiming the latter two contests. Jones sat out both Rockets losses due to injury.


(1) Atlanta Hawks vs. (5) Washington Wizards (John Wall), WSH 1-0

The Wizards continued their postseason undefeated streak with a 104-98 victory over the top-seeded Hawks on the road. Wall fought through a sprained left wrist to notch his fourth double-double in five playoff games, by way of 18 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds. Game 2 is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday. TNT will broadcast live from Atlanta.

(2) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (3) Chicago Bulls (Nazr Mohammed)

After sitting out the first six games of the Bulls' first round series with the Milwaukee Bucks, the 37-year-old Mohammed recorded two points, one block, and one rebound in Chicago's 120-66 Game 7 annihilation of Milwaukee. Game 1 with the Cavs will begin tonight in Cleveland at 7:00 p.m. on TNT.


(1) Golden State Warriors def. (8) New Orleans Pelicans (Anthony Davis), 4-0

Despite 31.5 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks per game in Davis' postseason debut, the Pelicans were swept by the top-seeded Warriors. New Orleans stayed competitive in each contest, including in holding a 20-point fourth quarter lead that led to an overtime loss at home in Game 3. Golden State will face either the Memphis Grizzlies or the Portland Trail Blazers in the second round.

(2) Houston Rockets (Terrence Jones) vs. (7) Dallas Mavericks (Rajon Rondo), HOU 3-1

After playing just 10 minutes in Dallas' Game 2 loss in Houston, Rondo has been ruled out for the remainder of the postseason with a back injury. Meanwhile, Jones continues to thrive in the Rockets' starting lineup despite having played in only 33 games during an injury-riddled regular season. The 23-year-old has averaged 12.3 points and 6.8 rebounds over the series' first four games. Houston claimed the first three matchups by an eight-point average margin of victory, but failed to complete the series sweep Sunday night in Dallas. Game 5 will take place in Houston on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.


(5) Washington Wizards (John Wall) def. (4) Toronto Raptors (Patrick Patterson), 4-0

In a battle of former collegiate teammates, Wall's Wizards defeated Patterson's higher seeded Raptors 4-0 in Washington's first series sweep in franchise history. Wall led the way with an average of 17.3 points and 12.5 assists over the four-game stretch. Poor field-goal shooting notwithstanding, Wall made his living at the free-throw line with a 24-for-28 (.857) performance. Patterson shined for Toronto, posting a 10.3 scoring average (3.0 points higher than in the regular season) and a 7-for-15 (.467) three-point field goal total. Chuck Hayes, who is also on the Raptors roster, logged zero playoff minutes. The Wizards will face the winner of the Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets in the second round.

(3) Chicago Bulls (Nazr Mohammed) vs. (6) Milwaukee Bucks, CHI 3-1

Like Hayes and James Young (whose Boston Celtics were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs' opening round), the 17-year veteran Mohammed has not seen the floor this postseason. Game 5 in Chicago is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. on TNT.

Video: Coach Cal receives Adolph Rupp Cup

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(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (8) New Orleans Pelicans (Anthony Davis), GS 1-0

After falling behind 25 points late in the third quarter, Davis spurred a Pelicans comeback effort that ultimately came up seven points shy in his NBA Playoff debut. The former No. 1 overall selection tallied 35 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks in the 106-99 Warriors victory. Game 2 will take place Monday night at 10:30 p.m. ET in Oakland, Calif. on TNT.

(2) Houston Rockets (Terrence Jones) vs. (7) Dallas Mavericks (Rajon Rondo), HOU 1-0

Jones, who has reached the playoffs in each of his first three seasons in the NBA, emerged big in a Game 1 starting effort for the victorious Rockets. The 6-foot-9 power forward notched 19 points, nine rebounds, and six assists in the 118-108 Houston win. Rondo logged 15 points and five assists for Dallas. Game 2 is scheduled in Houston for Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. on TNT.


(2) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (7) Boston Celtics (James Young), CLE 1-0

Young, a 19-year-old rookie, failed to see the floor in Boston's 113-100 Game 1 loss to the Cavaliers. The Celtics will get a second shot at Cleveland Tuesday at 7 p.m. on TNT.

(3) Chicago Bulls (Nazr Mohammed) vs. (6) Milwaukee Bucks, CHI 1-0

Mohammed, a 37-year-old veteran playing in his 17th NBA season, also spent Game 1 of his team's best-of-seven series on the bench. The Bulls defeated the Bucks 103-91, and will play Game 2 Monday at 8:00 p.m. on TNT.

(4) Toronto Raptors (Chuck Hayes, Patrick Patterson) vs. (5) Washington Wizards (John Wall), WSH 1-0

In a postseason series featuring former 2009-10 teammates and First Team All-SEC performers Wall and Patterson, the road team edged out the home favorites 93-86 in Canada. Despite nightmarish 5-for-18 field goal shooting, Wall scored 10 points, with eight assists and six rebounds. Patterson matched Wall's 10 points in addition to five rebounds, while Hayes logged no minutes on the court. Game 2 will commence Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. in Toronto on NBA TV.

Recent Comments

  • BBN#1Fan: Was the first time I EVER watched the draft! It was great to see BBN doing great on this nite! read more
  • Berdj J. Rassam: Another great night for UK in the NBA draft. read more
  • Brooklin Lee: One loss does not mean you lose anything. Just try again in the next matches. I know the Wild Cats read more
  • Floyd Ballard: CONGRATULATIONS!! I watched the run Saturday on TV, and you looked fantastic. read more
  • Walter Leonard: President? Why would Cal want to take such a drastic pay cut? As long as he can still coach here, read more
  • BJ Rassam: Many of us are looking forward to the team Coach Cal will be putting out this upcoming season. read more
  • Tom Minney: Nice story about 3 outstanding young guys and the power of love. Debre Libanos is an outstanding place to visit, read more
  • Tsehai Alemayehu: It was great to meet you and the rest of your group yesterday in that funky restaurant in Fiche. As read more
  • Carla Blair: God is good! Be grateful for this experience. And this opportunity. read more
  • Bobby Dick: Always remember young man its not what you take its what you leave behind i pray to God you guys read more