Kentucky freshman forward Bam Adebayo announced Wednesday that he plans to submit his name for the 2017 NBA Draft but will not hire an agent. So long as Adebayo does not hire an agent, he will have until May 24 (10 days after the NBA Draft Combine) to make a final decision as to whether he wishes to remain in the draft or return to Kentucky.
Fellow freshmen De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk announced they will sign with agents, ending their college careers.
Adebayo is currently projected at No. 30 by DraftExpress.com.
“This process we went through at Kentucky was a tough but a rewarding one,” Adebayo said. “It was everything I wanted when I decided to come to Kentucky. It taught me a lot. It taught me how to be a better man on and off the court. I have improved so much since the beginning of the season thanks to the hard work of the coaching staff. They helped me with every step of the process along the way and they never gave up on me.
“I want to thank my teammates. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to grow with. We were all like brothers. I also want to thank the fans for their support and everything they do for us. Their passion is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
“I feel I’m making the right step in declaring for the draft, but I want to be absolutely sure that I’m making the right decision for me and my mom. I’m looking forward to the process and I appreciate the support of the coaches, my teammates and the fans. No matter what happens, it’s been an unbelievable ride.”
If Adebayo were to return for his sophomore season, Kentucky will have an even more crowded frontcourt, especially if Sacha Killeya-Jones, Wenyen Gabriel and Isaac Humphries return, too. Kentucky also adds Nick Richards, P.J. Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt and remains in the mix for Mohamed Bamba and Kevin Knox.
“Bam was our hardest worker this season,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. “You’re talking about a player who can guard all five positions, has more perimeter skills than people know, and someone with size and a physique that immediately translates to that league. Bam is a great kid with a ton of upside. Should he decide to stay in the draft, he will be an outstanding four man in the NBA. Every organization needs character and Bam is a high-character kid who only cares about winning.”
For the year, Adebayo averaged 13.0 points and a team-best 8.0 rebounds per game. He also led the team in blocks per game (1.5) and double-doubles (eight), including five double-doubles over his last 11 games. He was a member of the All-Southeastern Conference Second Team and was also named to the All-SEC Tournament Team during his successful freshman campaign.
The NBA Draft Combine will take place May 9-14 in Chicago. Players who have not hired an agent will have 10 days following that showcase opportunity to make a final decision as to whether to forego their athletic eligibility or return to school.
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.Follow Adam Zagoria on Twitter And like ZAGS on Facebook