Jackson, Boston Jr. Selected in NBA Draft
BROOKLYN, N.Y. – In what has become an annual tradition for the Kentucky men’s basketball program under head coach John Calipari – graduation night, as he likes to call it – two more Wildcats were selected in the NBA Draft on Thursday.
Isaiah Jackson (No. 22, Los Angeles Lakers) and Brandon Boston Jr. (No. 51, Memphis Grizzlies) were picked during the 2021 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., while the late Terrence Clarke was honored by the NBA with a posthumous selection between the 14th and 15th picks.
“I want to thank Adam Silver, Mark Tatum and everyone in the NBA office who gave Terrence’s family and all of us who loved him a special moment tonight,” Calipari said. “It shows the true heart of the league and I thank you all.”
Jackson’s draft rights are a part of the proposed trade between the Lakers, Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers resulting eventually in Jackson joining the Pacers. Boston’s rights have been proposed in a trade with Memphis, New Orleans and the Los Angeles Clippers with Boston eventually joining the Clippers.
In 12 seasons with Calipari at the helm, Kentucky has churned out three No. 1 selections, 32 first-rounders, 21 lottery picks and 43 total players in the NBA Draft. The 43 draft picks are 15 more than the next closest school (Duke).
With Jackson’s selection in the opening round, UK has now had at least one player taken in the opening round in each of the last 12 drafts under Calipari. That’s the longest streak in the modern draft era (since 1966).
“I am so happy for Isaiah Jackson and his family,” Calipari said. “He is just scratching the surface with his talent and is another one of our guys who is going to make a lot of teams regret passing on. Isaiah had an unbelievable spirit with us, and I can’t wait to see him continue to grow at the next level.”
Jackson was the first Wildcat off the board. He is the ninth player in UK program history to be selected by Los Angeles, although his rights are linked to a trade proposal with the Wizards and Pacers.
“It's a surreal moment,” Jackson said Thursday at the Barclays Center. “Just growing up, just wanting, like having the dream of making it to the NBA, it's just crazy. So, this is surreal moment for me and I'm enjoying it.
“It lived up to everything, just having my name called, getting drafted. It's just, it's mind blowing. … It just feels like a dream in a way. Like, it's just crazy right now. I'm just trying to bottle all my emotions and it's just crazy, man.”
Boston was selected 51st by the Memphis Grizzlies. He is the first UK player ever selected by the Grizzlies. However, his draft rights are in the midst of a trade in which he will eventually land with the Clippers.
“BJ is going to use tonight as fuel and I going to have a great NBA career,” Calipari said. “I am sure of it, just as sure as I am that teams are going to look back and wish they would have taken him sooner. BJ has length, an ability to score that few have and a high ceiling.
“He has landed with a great franchise that will give him time to grow, and my guess is we will look back in a couple of years and realize how much he was hurt this season by his hand injury and the COVID year. I know he is a special player.”
The Wildcats have had more top-10 picks, more lottery selections and more first-round picks in the Calipari era than any other team in the country.
Kentucky has had 134 players drafted 136 times in its illustrious history with 57 players selected in the opening round.
Calipari is the only coach to have multiple players selected in 14 consecutive NBA Drafts, dating back to his time at Memphis.
Senior Olivier Sarr went undrafted. He is likely to have an opportunity to sign a free-agent deal.
“I am disappointed for Olivier that he did not get selected tonight, but not discouraged,” Calipari said. “Olivier is a mature kid with great skills and range for a player his size. With the right opportunity, I think Olivier is going to find a spot and will have a successful career. I am looking forward to seeing who gets him because it will be a steal.”