If Kentucky fans want to blame someone for Bam Adebayo leaving for the NBA Draft after one season, they should point an accusing finger at … UK Coach John Calipari.
Calipari convinced him to enter this year’s NBA Draft, Adebayo said Friday.
Adebayo initially had doubts about joining UK’s long line of one-and-done players.
“He felt like I was doubting my potential,” Adebayo said of Calipari’s reaction. “It was, like, ‘What’s wrong with you?’”
When Adebayo assured the UK coach that he did not have doubts, Calipari replied, “Then go!”
Although mock drafts have Adebayo being drafted late in the first round or early in the second round, Calipari suggested a much earlier selection was not only likely, but all but inevitable.
“I’ll be stunned if he’s not a lottery pick,” Calipari said Thursday.
When asked if he’d be stunned by such a early pick, Adebayo said, “No, I wouldn’t be stunned.”
But Adebayo appreciated Calipari’s vote of confidence.
“I applaud him for that,” Adebayo said. “He believes in me just like I believed in him when I first committed to him.”
Refs are human
Referees are human, too.
That’s a reminder the NCAA wants to deliver in the wake of Kentucky fans threatening the life of referee John Higgins earlier this spring.
J.D. Collins, the national coordinator of officials, said he and his counterparts on the conference level, want to remind fans to have more empathy for referees.
“We are looking at opportunities to proactively communicate the humanity of officials,” Collins said on a NCAA teleconference Friday. “Tell positive stories about them. We believe we need to communicate in a way that lets people know these are real people with real lives and real families.
“And there are obviously certain lines that should not be crossed, and we will be addressing that going forward.”
A number of Kentucky fans threatened Higgins’ life after he worked the Elite Eight game UK lost to North Carolina. Fans also flooded the website of Higgins’ roofing business with fictitious complaints.
Collins said he would not comment on how the game was called.
When asked if the death threats should serve as a cautionary tale for announcers who criticize officials, Collins said he had been trying to help networks better understand the rules since the UK-UNC game.
The half-hour teleconference covered a range of issues discussed this week by the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee.
The committee recommended the coaching boxes be extended from 28 feet long to 38 feet, expanded use of reviews at sideline monitors and a request by the Southeastern Conference to have its office collaborate with referees during use of sideline monitors for reviews.
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel will make a judgment on those recommendations at its June 13th meeting.
There is a replay facility at the SEC offices in Birmingham, Collins said. The league wants this facility’s staffers to work with referees on replay reviews.
If adopted, and the change would affect only conference games, the game referees will make all final decisions on reviews, Collins said.
The SEC office would work to line up the most effective replays, thus speeding up the process of reviews, Collins said.
Many questions from New York-based media were directed at De’Aaron Fox. The Big Apple media wanted to know how he thought he’d handle big city pressure if drafted by the Knicks.
“Lexington’s not that big a city,” Fox said, “but the way their fan base is, it seems like a big city and a big market. I know (Knicks) fans are demanding and they’re going to let you know how they feel. But so are Kentucky fans.
“It won’t really change that much.”
When asked to assess mystery man Hamidou Diallo, Fox said the freshman needed to work on his shot.
“He’s going to have to shoot the ball better from the three,” Fox said. “But that’s just about every player that comes into the draft. (Pause) Except Malik (Monk). Malik can shoot from half-court well.”
The name plate on his interview table identified the UK big man as Edrice Adebayo.
When asked if he requested his formal first name be used, Adebayo said, “I go by Bam. Edrice is the guy in the suit. The basketball sticks with Bam.”
Adebayo said it struck him as odd when he saw his formal first name. He said his initial reaction is to think, “Oh, my real name.”