With seven players from last season’s 38-1 team available, Thursday’s NBA Draft is expected to be a good one for the Kentucky basketball program. And the draft got off to a good start for John Calipari’s program, as Karl-Anthony Towns was selected with the first overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Towns, who will join two other top overall draft picks in Minnesota in Andrew Wiggins (2014) and Anthony Bennett (2013), is the third former Wildcat to be taken first in an NBA Draft. He joins John Wall (2010) and Anthony Davis (2012), making Kentucky the first college basketball program with three top overall picks in the draft’s modern era (since 1985).
Also on the board for Kentucky were Willie Cauley-Stein (drafted sixth by Sacramento), Trey Lyles (12th to Utah), Devin Booker (13th to Phoenix), Andrew Harrison (44th to Phoenix, traded to Memphis) and Dakari Johnson (48th to Oklahoma City). Aaron Harrison went undrafted.
Calipari was with the four players (Towns, Cauley-Stein, Lyles and Booker) who made the trip to Brooklyn, and Towns’ “friend” Karlito was there as well.
Former Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell was taken with the second overall pick by the Los Angeles Lakers, with Duke’s Jahlil Okafor being picked third by Philadelphia. Kristaps Porzingis (New York) and Mario Hezonja (Orlando) rounded out the top five.
Dan Patrick Show: Karl-Anthony Towns discusses his development as a player, recruitment (VIDEO)
Tuesday morning former Kentucky forward/center Karl-Anthony Towns appeared on “The Dan Patrick Show,” discussing matters such as the pre-draft process, what it was like playing for his father growing up and the recruiting process that ultimately led to his becoming a Wildcat.
Towns, who isn’t expected to be on the board too long in Thursday’s NBA Draft, credited his father with improving his skills to the point where he could comfortably use both hands on the court. He also spoke about the strengths of the University of Kentucky as a whole, and not just its basketball program, as a major factor in his decision to become a Wildcat.
Dominican league team gets draft day steal in Karl-Anthony Towns
While there was some deliberation, from a basketball standpoint Karl-Anthony Towns’ decision to enter the 2015 NBA Draft was a smart one. Many believe that either he or former Duke big man Jahlil Okafor will be the top pick in the late-June draft, depending upon which team wins the draft lottery that’s to be held later this month.
Towns has Okafor beat in one area however: he’s already been selected in a professional basketball league draft. Thursday the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto (National Basketball League) (the article is in Spanish) of the Dominican Republic held its annual draft, and where Towns was selected may been seen as a surprise to some.
He was the sixth pick in the draft, with the Leones Basketball Club in Santo Domingo making the pick.
There will be people who wonder how on earth a player as talented as Towns could “slip” to sixth in the draft, but it’s pretty simple. The chances of Towns playing in the LNB are incredibly slim, based upon where he’s expected to go in the NBA Draft and how much money will be on the line. Teams ahead of Leones passed on Towns in hopes of landing a player more likely to join their team, which is understandable.
But if you’re Leones, which won its lone LNB title in 2011, why not take the chance on Towns? And his reaction to being picked could lead to some Lloyd Christmas-like optimism in team offices.
Two of the top three picks in the draft played Division I college basketball last season, with former Florida forward Jon Horford going second overall and former Manhattan forward Emmy Andujar going third. Kelly Beidler, who played collegiately at Mount St. Mary’s from 2006-10, was the top overall selection.