Russell, Payne, Rozier, The UK 4. The NBA Draft has a Bluegrass feel

06/25/2015 09:30 PM

The first part of the first round of the NBA draft has a very decided Bluegrass feel.
The top 16 picks have included four Wildcats, a Louisville native, a Murray State point guard, and a UofL Cardinal.

UK has tied a record by having four players drafted in the first round (actually in the top 13). Here is Kentucky’s scorecard:
1. Karl-Anthony Towns to Minnesota Timberwolves
6. Willie Cauley-Stein to Sacramento Kings
He is known as a defensive specialist, but he can get the job on the offensive side as well.

12. Trey Lyles to Utah Jazz
13. Devin Booker to Phoenix Suns

Meanwhile Louisville native D’Angelo Russell surprised a few by being the second overall pick, going to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Guard averaged better than 19 a game at Ohio State. He had been projected going third to the 76ers or fourth to the Knicks, for what that is worth. Our own Mark Krebs caught up with Russell at the Barnstable Brown party back in May.

Murray State fans are cheering loudly. Cameron Payne was taken by Oklahoma City with the 14th overall selection. The 6-2, 183 pound guard averaged better than 20 points a game and is the highest drafted player in Racer’s history.

The Louisville Cardinals had been shut out, until the 16th overall pick. Guard Terry Rozier, who has been impressing many, shot up the list, and was chosen with the 16th overall pick by the Boston Celtics. Rozier played better than 35 minutes a game, averaging 17 points, five and a half rebounds and three assists a game.To show how far Rozier has come, this is how he was rated just a few months ago:

Rozier’s UofL teammate, Montrezl Harrell was projected to be chosen in the first round, but he fell to the second pick of the second round, the 32nd overall selection.
The Houston Rockets have made Trez a pro. Harrell is 6’8”, and 240 pounds. He averaged almost a double-double during his junior season with 15.7 ppg and 9.7 rebounds per game.

Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino released the following statement on Draft night:

“We’re all surprised that Montrezl slipped out of the first round, but it really doesn’t matter. He’ll get a contract from Houston. The most important thing is to be drafted by the right team with a chance to play. He certainly was drafted by the right team with a chance to play. Some players would have a chip on their shoulder to prove people wrong. Montrezl will have a boulder on his shoulder, and there’s not a doubt in my mind that he will.

Obviously, both players have worked very hard to help make Louisville successful. We hope that Louisville had played a big role in making them successful.”

The fifth UK player chosen was Guard Andrew Harrison. He goes to Phoenix in the second round with the 44th overall pick, and then is later traded to Memphis where he will join former UofL Guard Russ Smith. . Not many UK fans will ever forget this long range jumper.

When Dakari Johnson declared for the draft, there was some concern the UK Center would not get selected. However he will join Cameron Payne at Oklahoma City. The Thunder choose the seven footer with the 48th overall pick.

Among those going undrafted are Andrew Harrison’s brother Aaron and former UofL forward Wayne Blackshear.


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