BROOKLYN, N.Y. – NBA Draft night was special once again for the Kentucky Wildcats. In what has become an annual celebration of sorts for the program, four more Wildcats achieved their dreams of hearing their names called on draft night. Kevin Knox (No. 9, New York Knicks), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (No. 11, Charlotte Hornets, then traded to L.A. Clippers), Jarred Vanderbilt (No. 41, Orlando Magic, then traded to Denver Nuggets) and Hamidou Diallo (No. 45, Brooklyn Nets) were selected during the 2018 draft on Thursday, June 21.
In nine seasons with John Calipari at the helm, Kentucky has churned out three No. 1 selections, 26 first-rounders, 19 lottery picks and 35 total players in the NBA Draft. The 35 draft picks are nearly twice as many as the next school (Duke). With another surge of first-round picks, Kentucky has more first-round selections (36) than any other school in the NBA lottery era (since 1985).
Sophomore Wenyen Gabriel, UK’s fifth draft-eligible player, went undrafted. He participated in nearly 20 workouts with teams and is likely to have an opportunity to sign a free-agent deal.
Kentucky Quotes from NBA Draft
John Calipari: “Graduation day is over. Last night was both exciting and disappointing, as it always is. I’m excited for the four players who got drafted. I’m excited for Kevin, Shai, Jarred and Hami because they are all in good places. I’m disappointed Wenyen’s work to get on a team is not done yet, but I always tell every player that I coach when we go through this process, ‘It may not go perfectly, but if it’s your dream, you’ll make it.’ And I know our guys are made for this. I can look back at DeAndre Liggins and Andrew Harrison and know that the draft doesn’t define your dreams. Everybody’s path is different. Now my work begins on next year’s team. With the added hours, I’m going to spend more time in the summer than I normally do trying to create something special. This team is as hungry as any team as I’ve coached, individually and collectively. They inspire me to want to do more.”
Jarred Vanderbilt: “I’m beyond excited to see my dreams come true. This is a blessing that my family and I will never forget. Now the real work begins. I’m looking forward to getting to work with the Nuggets. I couldn’t have ended up in a better spot.”
Hamidou Diallo: “It’s a blessing. It’s an honor no matter what pick it is. Only a couple guys get this opportunity in a lifetime. You’ve got to cherish it and stay humble and hungry. That’s the motto I’m living by: I’m humble and hungry and that’s the motto I’m going to keep living by no matter what happens.”
Kevin Knox (on broadcast): “I’m very versatile. Coach (David) Fizdale is a player’s coach, so he’s going to use me around the court. I’m really looking forward to it. He loves players like me, players that can really do pretty much everything. So, I’m really looking forward to it.”
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: “It’s a great feeling honestly. Being able to play in the NBA in itself is a blessing and something that not a lot of kids get to experience and me being one of them is an amazing feeling.”