BROOKLYN, N.Y. (UK Athletics Press Release)– 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), Jarred Vanderbilt (No. 41, Orlando Magic) and Hamidou Diallo (No. 45, Brooklyn Nets) were selected during the 2018 draft Thursday.
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.
Knox is the 12th UK player since 2010 to go in the top nine picks. Gilgeous-Alexander is UK’s 26th first-rounder in the Calipari era. Vanderbilt and Diallo helped push UK’s total to 35 players drafted under Calipari.
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.
“I’m very versatile,” Knox said on the broadcast after being picked ninth overall by the Knicks. “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.”
Kentucky has had 126 players drafted 128 times in its illustrious history with 47 players selected in the opening round.
“It’s a great feeling honestly,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “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.”
It is the ninth consecutive NBA Draft that Kentucky was represented by multiple players in the first round of the draft. UK is the only program since the draft went to two rounds in 1989 to have multiple players selected in the first round in nine straight years. Calipari is the only coach to have multiple players selected in 11 consecutive NBA Drafts, dating back to his time at Memphis. UK has had multiple lottery selections in six of nine drafts under Calipari.
The Wildcats’ four total picks tied Duke and Villanova for the most selections in the 2018 NBA Draft.