De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo were all expected to be first-round picks in the NBA Draft, but outside of perhaps Kentucky Coach John Calipari no one expected Adebayo to be a lottery pick.
He proved draft projections wrong when he was picked 14th overall by the Miami Heat — the second center off the board behind Gonzaga’s Zach Collins at No. 10.
Adebayo backed up the Heat’s faith with his performance in the NBA’s summer leagues. He finished fifth in points per game (17.5) and third in rebounds (8.3) in Orlando. And he averaged 15.7 points and 8.7 rebounds in Las Vegas.
“Nobody had seen what I could do, because you know we all had to sacrifice something (at Kentucky),” Adebayo said Wednesday while taking part in John Calipari’s UK Pro Camp in Lexington. “Going into the workouts, I made myself known, and I ended up in the lottery.”
Adebayo said that ahead of the draft he spent a lot of time preparing with UK assistant Kenny Payne.
“Just being in the gym everyday,” Adebayo said. “Just building a mindset that I’m not going to quit.”
All the suicides and laps ran ahead of the draft with fellow former Cat Malik Monk, who was also in Lexington on Wednesday for Calipari’s camp, paid off for Adebayo. He now finds himself on a playoff-contending team in Miami.
“Everybody goes to South Beach, everybody. Just being there, I love the city,” Adebayo said of his new home.
Adebayo revealed Wednesday that his mom will be making the move to Miami, too. They will be living in the same building but not the same condo.
“She’s going to be on the fifth floor because she doesn’t like heights, and I’m going to be on the 46th,” Adebayo said after being asked what he bought when he signed his NBA contract.
Typically, NBA rookies buy their parents expensive new items such a car or a house. That’s exactly what Monk did, too.
Monk said he was out of town when his mom’s new car was delivered to her at work. Monk never got a video of the surprise but could tell she appreciated the gesture over the phone.
“She was super happy. She said she wasn’t crying but I heard her,” he said.
Adebayo, who once was debating on returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season, is already enjoying the benefits of being a pro basketball player in Miami.
“I can call one of my staff members right now and just be like, ‘yo, can I get in the gym at 3 a.m. in the morning’ and he’ll be there,” Adebayo said. “They show love to us, they’re like a family.”
Chris Leach: 859-231-1326. @chrisleach250