By LARRY VAUGHT
Thursday night we’ll find out where Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox will be drafted.
Former NBA draft analyst Ed Isaacson thinks he he likely will go No. 2 to Los Angeles or No. 5 to Sacramento.
Kentucky coach John Calipari has done all he can to promote Fox, who reportedly has had brilliant workouts for every team he’s worked out for in recent weeks.
So how did Calipari see Fox improve during his freshman season?
“Sometimes you see a direction when you’re coaching, especially young guys. Here’s what people may not know, these kids are 18 when I get them. They’re 18 years old, some of them 17. I mean, Kevin Knox this year is 17. Michael Kidd(-Gilchrist) was 17. Devin Booker was 17. And they walk into Kentucky where every game is a Super Bowl, where our postgame in Lexington has 20 cameras and 100 media people sitting like you’re in the NBA Finals after you play anybody,” Calipari said.
“And so, you see growth. They are unsure of themselves. They are anxious. They know they’re good, they think they’re good, I hope I’m good. And then they come in here and they play against other guys that are just as good as they are. What happens is, by playing against each other, being around each other, they all grow that way as much as anything. The saying, ‘Well, they were already developed when they went there,’ and this and that. It’s just not true.
“But again, the biggest thing with De’Aaron was the leadership that he – early on he didn’t try to come in and say, ‘This is my program.’ But about two months in, we’re playing games and I look at him and I said,’ Hey, kid, this is your team. You’re my point guard. You’re it. Go do your thing.’ And I think he became more challenged and more challenged and more comfortable taking over.
“Now, I’ll tell you with UCLA he’s really playing. At halftime, I walk in and I look at the team and I go, ‘Are you all watching this game?’ And they look at me like, ‘What?’ ‘Are you watching what he’s doing? How about we just play through him this half?’ And the first guy to speak up and laugh was Malik Monk, and said, ‘Put it in his hands! We’ll play off him. Go do your thing.’
“That’s from Malik Monk to De’Aaron, because Malik knew De’Aaron led the right way. He led for his teammates more than he led himself. But he learned that, and he learned it over five months.”