By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today
LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — For the first time in John Calipari’s tenure as coach of the Wildcats, a Kentucky player wasn’t selected as a lottery pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday night and he had to wait a while before one of his players was chosen.
Tyrese Maxey was the first Wildcat picked in this year’s NBA Draft as the 21st overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers. Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers likes the idea of having Maxey alongside Ben Simmons in the backcourt.
“When you have a guy like Ben (Simmons), who has the ball (and) a true point guard, you need guards and you need players and I think Tyrese fits that mode,” Rivers said.
Maxey averaged 14 points per game, along with 4.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game last season for the Wildcats. Maxey scored a career-high 27 points in a win over Louisville. In six games against Top-25 foes, Maxey averaged 19 points and 5.3 rebounds.
In his college debut against Michigan State in the State Farm Champions Classic last season, Maxey scored 26 points and tallied double figures in 22 contests last year.
Immanuel Quickley was taken 25th by the Oklahoma City Thunder, but is expected to be traded to the New York Knicks, where he likely will join former Kentucky associate head coach Kenny Payne.
Kentucky coach John Calipari was happy for both players, but felt both should have gone higher in the draft.
“I’m happy for those two,” he said. “It’s been a good night (but) I wish … there’s some (teams) that passed on Tyrese (and) they’re going to regret it.”
Nick Richards was the first Kentucky player taken in the second round and was chosen No. 42 by the New Orleans Pelicans.
Two Southeastern Conference players were chosen in the Top 10, including Anthony Edwards of Georgia, the top pick in the draft.
“We’ve had a bunch of those guys over the years here that, they’re special players,” Kentucky assistant coach Tony Barbee said of Edwards last year. “They make the game look easy. And the game becomes easy for him.”
Auburn’s Issac Okoro was taken fifth by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The New Orleans Pelicans took Kira Lewis Jr. of Alabama as the 13th overall pick in the draft. Aaron Nesmith (Vanderbilt) was the 14th overall pick and was chosen by the Boston Celtics.
Former Dayton standout Obi Toppin, brother of Kentucky guard Jacob Toppin was theNo. 8 pick in the draft and was chosen by the New York Knicks. Toppin was named Associated Press Player of the Year last season.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @keithtaylor21.