NEWARK, N.J. — Joining Anthony Davis as the first college teammates ever selected with the opening two picks of a NBA Draft, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist contemplated the celebratory party for more than 150 family and friends across the Hudson River in Manhattan later Thursday night.
"Woooooo," he said as reporters laughed. "It's going to be good."
Wooooo, what a night for Kentucky basketball.
With UK players drafted in his three seasons as coach approaching 15, John Calipari joked about the "Green Room" staging area being renamed the "Blue Room." More seriously, he cast another bountiful draft night in terms of players reaching dreams.
Yet, Calipari acknowledged how the draft served as yet another glowing statement in a phosphorescent year of UK achievement on the court (national championship) and off (3.2 grade-point average in the spring semester).
"I don't know what else you can add to our recruiting," he said. "I just want to know, 'How did you beat us on a kid?'"
Rather than Green Room or Blue Room, Calipari suggested the fitting color be gold.
"I just told you three years ago, 'Let's make this the gold standard,'" Calipari said in recalling the objective he set in his inaugural Big Blue Madness speech in 2009. "Let's make this where every kid in America is growing up saying, 'I want to play for Kentucky.'"
Like clockwork, every kid could say, "I got drafted" a year later.
"In three years, we'll have 10 percent of the league," Calipari said with a touch of wonder in his voice.
As expected, Kentucky's big night began with Davis.
Characterized as a once-a-decade type prospect, only Davis doubted — at least publicly — that he would be the first pick in this 2012 NBA Draft.
Still, Davis managed to infuse the most anticlimactic first pick of many a draft — by the New Orleans Hornets — with a historic dimension. He became the first player since UCLA's Lew Alcindor (kids, that's Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) in 1969 to cap a terrific trifecta: lead his college team to an NCAA Tournament, be named National Player of the Year and be selected with the first pick of an NBA Draft.
"I told myself I wasn't going to be nervous, just going to relax when I was at that table," Davis said. "(NBA Commissioner) David Stern said, 'New Orleans is on the clock, five minutes' and I started shaking. Just hit me right then and there. My arm was shaking and my hands were sweaty."
This reaction continued a nerve-wracking final 24 hours for Davis. He said he could not sleep Wednesday night.
"Couldn't eat lunch," he said. "We had lunch with the commissioner. Couldn't eat lunch. I was just anxious."
New Orleans made Davis the second UK player in three years to be taken with the first pick of a draft. The Washington Wizards opened the 2010 NBA Draft by selecting John Wall.
In pre-draft interviews, Davis acknowledged that his basketball life figures to get more difficult as an NBA player. Other power forwards include Kevin Garnett, Blake Griffin, Amare Stoudemire, LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh and Pau Gasol.
"That's a lot of guys," said another, Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves, recently. "It's not easy every night. He (Davis) is going to find that out."
Davis seemed aware. When asked about the transition from college to the NBA, he said, "The 'physicality,' Guys are a lot stronger in the NBA, and I know that's one of my weaknesses."
After Davis, the next UK player expected to be taken was fellow freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He had been projected as high as the second pick, which belonged to the Charlotte Bobcats. But there was talk of him slipping to third, fourth or fifth.
Charlotte's pick surprised Kidd-Gilchrist.
"I was shocked, at first," he said. "I was shocked."
Calipari said he was not surprised. A few phone calls convinced him Kidd-Gilchrist would be the No. 2 pick.
Kidd-Gilchrist, who displayed a knack for making winning plays in his one UK season, goes to a Bobcats team that set an NBA record in 2011-12 for worst winning percentage.
"He'll figure it out," Calipari said, "and he'll drag them farther than they should go. And he'll go crazy if they're losing. It'll rip him apart, but that's the only way you'll get better.
"When you get used to losing, you accept it. He'll never get used to it."
This draft showed again how familiar Kentucky has grown with having its players drafted.
"It's crazy," Davis said of joining Kidd-Gilchrist as the unprecedented one-two sweep for college teammates. "We have two down, and four more to go. Hopefully, all of them will go in the first round."
The Houston Rockets picked Terrence Jones with the 18th pick of the first round. The Chicago Bulls took Marquis Teague with the next-to-last pick of the first round. Doron Lamb went in the second round to Milwaukee with the 42nd overall pick, and Darius Miller went to the Hornets with the 46th pick.
Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com