2017 NBA Draft

De’Aaron Fox’s 39-point game was to ‘shut LaVar up’

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In one of the best individual performances of the college basketball season, Kentucky freshman point guard De’Aaron Fox scored 39 points in the Wildcats’ 86-75 Sweet 16 victory over UCLA and his counterpart for that evening, Lonzo Ball.

Even though Ball had picked up a win earlier that season at Kentucky, it was the second time Fox had gotten the better of his fellow floor general.

The second meeting had three months of build up, as Ball went on have an All-American season while his father, LaVar, became a media sensation with his outlandish comments. Fox went on to have a notable season as well but that was in the shadow of the Balls’ frequent radio and television appearances.

In an interview with Andrew Sharp of Sports Illustrated, Fox revealed that the patriarch of the Ball household helped inspire his incredible tournament performance.

“Kill mode all the time,” is how Fox described his mindset before the UCLA game in March. “Shut Lavar Ball up,” is how he explains it a few months later.

In addition to his 39 points, he had three boards, four assists (to one turnover) and two steals. His defense also helped limit Ball to 10 points, off 4-of-10 shooting and 1-of-6 from three and eight assists (to four turnovers).

Of course, Fox was mainly motivated by the chance to avenge an earlier a loss — one in which Lonzo shushed the Rupp Arena fans — earn a spot in the Elite Eight and bolster his draft stock against a projected top-2 pick. The comment he made to SI is harmless, especially when you look at LaVar’s well-documented claims and personal attacks. If anything, this could be laying the groundworks for a one-on-one rivalry at the next level with Lonzo, especially if they wind up in the same division, as some are currently predicting.

Ball, a Southern California native, is expected to go No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Lakers. Fox the first lead guard after Markelle Fultz and Ball to be selected. DraftExpress.com currently has him going to the Sacramento Kings with the No. 5 overall pick.

WATCH: Hamidou Diallo’s vertical jump at the NBA Draft Combine

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Kentucky redshirt freshman guard Hamidou Diallo is the NBA Draft mystery man.

But after the first day of the NBA Combine, Diallo, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, offered up some answers for the dozens of front office executives on hand in Chicago.

Diallo set the highest mark in the vertical jump, maxing out at 44.5″ inches. This is after he was measured with a 6’11.25″ wingspan.

His leaping ability after his first attempt was so impressive, they had to raise the bar.

Diallo is a fascinating storyline as we inch closer and closer to the NBA Draft deadline on May 24. The five-star recruit from the Class of 2017 began the school year at Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut before he enrolled at Kentucky for the second semester. After redshirting, he declared for the draft but elected not to sign with an agent, giving him the ability to return to Lexington for the 2017-18 season. In an era when John Calipari revolutionized the game by embracing one-and-dones, he may be on the verge of having a one (semester)-and-done; a none-and-done.

Coming into the combine, DraftExpress.com projected Diallo to be an early second round selection.

Malik Monk enters NBA Draft

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Kentucky freshman Malik Monk is heading to the NBA. He will sign with an agent which puts an immediate end to his college career.

Monk, an All-American, announced his decision through a letter posted on The Player’s Tribune on Tuesday morning. This comes one day after fellow freshman guard De’Aaron Fox declared for the draft.

The 6-foot-3 Monk averaged 19.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game while shooting 45 percent from the field and 40 percent from three. A remarkable scorer, Monk dropped 47 points in a win over North Carolina in December.

Monk is a projected lottery pick with the chance of being selected within the first five picks.