Freshman point guard De’Aaron Fox is the first Kentucky player this year to announce for the 2017 NBA Draft. He plans to sign with an agent, which would effectively end his career at UK.
The NBA Draft is June 22.
The 6-foot-3 Fox is the projected No. 6 pick via DraftExpress.com to the Knicks, while his teammate, fellow freshman Malik Monk, is at No. 5. Monk has yet to announce.
“First of all, I’m grateful for the unbelievable season we had,” Fox said. “Although the ending didn’t turn out how we wanted it to, this team came together as a family and we achieved things that a lot of people didn’t think we could because we were so young. I want to thank my teammates for being on this ride with me as well as the seniors and specifically Zay (Isaiah Briscoe) for guiding me this season. It wouldn’t have been such a smooth transition from high school to college without their leadership.
“I want to thank God for blessing me with this talent to play at this level. I also want to thank my parents and my brother for always being there for me. I want to thank Cal, KP (Kenny Payne) and the entire coaching staff for recruiting me and for having the confidence in me to lead this team. Throughout the season they helped me grow as a player and as a person.
“With that being said, I’ve decided to enter the 2017 NBA Draft and I will be signing with an agent. I think I’ve had a pretty good freshman season through the guidance of our coaching staff and I think it’s time for me to live out my dream.
“Last but not least, I want to thank the Big Blue Nation. There is no other fan base like you in the country. I’ll miss playing in front of you, but I know you’ll continue to support me at the next level.”Fox is the 19th one-and-done player for coach John Calipari at Kentucky.
“De’Aaron’s speed, length and ability to pick up defensively from 94 feet set him apart from his peers,” Calipari said. “De’Aaron came in here focused from day one, and to see his improvement from the beginning of the season to the end was special. What you saw from De’Aaron over the last month and a half of the season I think is what NBA teams will get for the future.”
Fox averaged 16.7 points, 4.6 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals, one of only four freshmen in the country to average at least those numbers in all four categories. Markelle Fultz (Washington), Dennis Smith Jr. (NC State) and Michael Weathers (Miami, Ohio) were the others.
The NBA Draft Combine will take place May 9-14 in Chicago.
Since Calipari joined the Wildcat program for the 2009-10 season, UK has produced 28 NBA Draft picks over seven seasons, more than double any other school. Included in the 28 are 21 first-round selections, three No. 1 overall picks, 11 top-10 selections and 14 lottery picks.
Of the 18 players in the Calipari era who declared for the NBA Draft after one season at Kentucky, all 18 were drafted in the first round.