Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Kentucky’s Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist Go 1-2 in NBA Draft
NEWARK — Minutes after huddling in the Green Room with Kentucky coach John Calipari, Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist made history by going 1-2 in the NBA Draft.
Davis went No. 1 to the New Orleans Hornets and Kidd-Gilchrist No. 2 to the Charlotte Bobcats.
It is the first time in NBA history that two teammates were chosen as the first two picks in the draft and the fourth time Kentucky has had a pair of teammates drafted in the Top 10 in the same year.
“It’s crazy,” said the 6-foot-10 Davis, the consensus National Player of the Year. “Michael’s a great player. We have two down, four more to go. Hopefully all of them will go in the first round.”
Later, Kentucky’s Terrence Jones went at No. 18 to the Houston Rockets and Marquis Teague was selected at No. 29 by the Chicago Bulls. In the second round, Doron Lamb was picked by the Milwaukee Bucks at No. 42 and Darius Miller by the Hornets at 46, meaning he and Davis will reunite in the Big Easy.
The group helped lead Kentucky to an NCAA championship in New Orleans in April.
Davis has been the presumed No. 1 pick for months, but when the moment came he called it “undescribable” and a “great, great experience.”
“I’ve wanted this all my life, so it’s finally here,” he added. “To be drafted No. 1 overall means a lot to me, for a 19-year-old freshman, now professional. The City of New Orleans was great. I had a great time when I went to visit. I just can’t wait to get down there and start to play.”
“We’re thrilled to welcome Anthony to the Hornets family,” said Hornets GM Dell Demps. “Anthony is an incredible person and very talented basketball player. We look forward to him being a part of the sustained success of our franchise on and off the court going forward.”
“I’m excited about having the chance to work with Anthony,” said Hornets Head Coach Monty Williams. “We have added an incredibly talented, athletic big man with great length who is also a proven winner. In getting to know him, he’s also a high-character kid and someone I look forward to helping develop further.”
Unlike Davis, who knew his fate, Kidd-Gilchrist was pegged to go in the top four picks, but was uncertain where he would land.
“I was shocked at first,” said the former Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick star who had some 160 family and friends cheering for him once he was picked at The Prudential Center. “I was shocked.
“Ant and I, so wow,” he added. “It’s a big step for us two and I just want to play for the Charlotte Bobcats. That’s what I want to do right now.”
The Bobcats were said to tout Kansas’ Thomas Robinson at the No. 2 spot and have been linked to various trades for the pick.
Instead, Robinson went No. 5 to the Sacramento Kings, after the Washington Wizards selected Bradley Beal of Florida at No. 3 and the Cleveland Cavaliers selects Dion Waiters of Syracuse at No. 4.
Kidd-Gilchrist and Waiters both played for the Team Final AAU program, and may be the highest pair of former AAU teammates ever selected in the draft.
New Orleans later drafted Duke’s Austin Rivers at No. 10 and the former Duke shooting guard said he’s looking forward to playing with Davis.
“Anthony is a great guy and obviously he’s an unbelievable player,” Rivers said. “To get there and and learn and go through this challenge we have ahead of us is pretty cool. We’ve been friends the past couple of years so to be ready to take on this journey together, it’s pretty cool and I’m looking forward to it.”
He added: “I want to be the best player I can be in New Orleans.”
Kidd-Gilchrist said he’s looking forward to playing with former UConn star Kemba Walker on a Charlotte team that finished an NBA-worst 7-59 and will be led by first-year coach Mike Dunlap, the former St. John’s assistant.
“I can’t wait to play with Kemba,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “He’s fast. I just can’t wait to play with him.”
Asked how he felt about playing with the NBA’s worst team, Kidd-Gilchrist said, “It’s going to be a challenge at first, but I’m ready to lead the team.”
“I have a winning attitude on life , on ball [and] school….I’m just so happy right now, man, and I’m blessed.”
Calipari told Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader: “He’ll figure it out, and he’ll drag [the Bobcats] farther than they should go.
“When you get used to losing, you accept it. He’ll never get used to it.”
Photos: Brian Fitzsimmons
Follow Adam Zagoria on TwitterAnd like ZAGS on Facebook
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.