Ex-Cats

NBA Draft recap: Murray, Labissiere and Ulis find new homes

Jamal Murray, right, posed for a photo with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being selected seventh overall by the Denver Nuggets during the NBA Draft, Thursday, June 23, 2016, in New York.
Jamal Murray, right, posed for a photo with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being selected seventh overall by the Denver Nuggets during the NBA Draft, Thursday, June 23, 2016, in New York. AP

Three former University of Kentucky players — Jamal Murray, Skal Labissiere and Tyler Ulis — were selected in Thursday night’s NBA Draft. Shortly afterward, Alex Poythress and Kyle Wiltjer also found their own opportunities to reach the NBA. Here is a recap, in reverse chronological order, of how the night went for all five.

1:45 a.m.

Final update for the 2016 NBA Draft.

After going undrafted, Kyle Wiltjer agreed to a contract with the Rockets, Fox 26 in Houston reported.

Wiltjer confirmed the news on Twitter: “Nothing but joy in the Wiltjer house … so hyped right now! Thank you @HoustonRockets for the opportunity.”

12:49 a.m.

Herald-Leader sports columnist Mark Story wrote about what Murray, Labissiere and Ulis can expect in their new jobs.

12:35 a.m.

After falling to Kings via the 28th pick, Skal Labissiere said: “I know God has a plan for me. That I was going to fall to the right place, the right team.”

Also, DraftExpress reported that Alex Poythress will play for the Orlando Magic in the Orlando Summer League.

12:20 a.m.

Final update of the night: Alex Poythress and Kyle Wiltjer were not drafted. Again, they’ll likely end up on a summer league roster.

Coach Cal tweeted after the draft: “Although Alex didn’t get drafted, I’m proud of the position he’s put himself in after what he went through a year a half ago.”

11:46 p.m.

We’re about midway through the second round. Neither UK’s Alex Poythress or Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer were projected to be chosen, but we’re sticking around to find out.

Either way, second-round picks’ contracts aren’t guaranteed. Both will likely end up on rosters for the NBA summer leagues, and they’ll try to play their way onto a team. Kentucky’s Aaron Harrison took that route with the Charlotte Hornets last year.

11:35 p.m.

Paul Coro, the Phoenix Suns beat writer for The Arizona Republic, tweeted: “I felt like it had been too long since we drafted a Kentucky guard,” Suns GM Ryan McDonough cracked about taking Tyler Ulis at 34.

11:18 p.m.

The Phoenix Suns took Tyler Ulis with the 34th overall pick. He joins fellow former UK guards Devin Booker, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Archie Goodwin on the Suns’ roster.

10:54 p.m.

The NBA Draft ended up being a waiting game for both Jamal Murray and Skal Labissiere. Check out Jerry Tipton’s story from the NBA Draft site in Brooklyn, N.Y.

10:42 p.m.

The wait is finally over for Skal Labissiere and Coach Cal. The Sacramento Kings, who acquired the rights to the 28th pick via a trade with the Phoenix Suns, selected the former UK player.

10:20 p.m.

As the first round SLOWLY progresses, we’re 25 picks in and Skal Labissiere is one of three players left in the “green room” at the draft. Reporters on site say that Coach Cal is working the phones, talking to teams about Labissiere.

9:50 p.m.

Through 20 picks and the wait continues for Skal Labissiere.

9:20 p.m.

DeMarcus Cousins’ tweet shortly after the Sacramento Kings used the No. 13 pick to take center Georgios Papagiannis.

9:06 p.m.

Here’s a selection of tweets from he Herald-Leader’s Jerry Tipton, who interviewed Jamal Murray at the NBA Draft:

▪  Murray knew he was being judged against Kris Dunn and Buddy Hield. He said he would draw motivation from being the third of the trio picked

▪  “Obviously,” he said. “Always. I always believe I’m the best player.”

▪  Murray on the wait to be selected: “I was patiently waiting (and was) picked by a great team.”

▪  Murray said he’s never been in Denver “other than connecting flights.”

▪  As for playing at altitude, Murray reminded that he uses breathing techniques. “I know what to do. I’ll just get better with my meditation.”

8:34 p.m.

With the Raptors taking Utah’ Jakob Poeltl and reports that the Bucks are going with Thon Maker, it looks like Kentucky’s Skal Labissiere could drop out of the lottery.

8:22 p.m.

The Denver Nuggets made it official, selecting Jamal Murray at No. 7.

8:15 p.m.

Yahoo Sports and ESPN reported that the Denver Nuggets will take Jamal Murray with the seventh pick in the NBA Draft.

8:13 p.m.

Jamal Murray’s wait continues after pick No. 6. It’ll be Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield joining Anthony Davis on the New Orleans Pelicans’ roster

8:07 p.m.

UK Coach John Calipari had said that Jamal Murray wanted to be drafted by the Timberwolves, but Minnesota went with Providence’s Kris Dunn instead.

7:59 p.m.

The Phoenix Suns took Dragan Bender at No. 4.

7:50 p.m.

The Boston Celtics have kept the pick, at least for now, and selected California’s Jaylen Brown.

The Suns, who have the fourth pick, already have a bunch of former UK guards: Devin Booker, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Archie Goodwin.

7:43 p.m.

The Los Angeles Lakers selected Duke’s Brandon Ingram with the second pick. Now is where the draft gets interesting. Will the Celtics use their pick or trade it? Jamal Murray is expected to go somewhere between picks No. 3 and No. 6.

7:37 p.m.

No surprise that LSU’s Ben Simmons is the first pick in the NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. Duke’s Brandon Ingram should be next.

7:33 p.m.

ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that the Philadelphia 76ers were offering Nerlens Noel, the No. 24 pick, the No. 26 pick and Robert Covington for Boston’s No. 3 pick.

7:25 p.m.

With the draft less than five minutes away, former University of Kentucky star Karl-Anthony Towns, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year, was in the house and providing analysis on NBA TV. That continued a long day of pre-draft appearances, most on ESPN with UK Coach John Calipari.

7 p.m.

Finally, time for the NBA Draft to start.

There shouldn’t be too much suspense before the third pick. Reports have the Philadelphia 76ers locked in to take LSU’s Ben Simmons and the Los Angeles Lakers primed to select Duke’s Brandon Ingram.

Kentucky’s Jamal Murray has been projected to go as high as third to the Boston Celtics and as low as sixth to the New Orleans Pelicans. The Minnesota Timberwolves’ pick at No. 5 is also a possibility.

6 p.m.

We’re an hour away from the NBA Draft, with Kentucky’s Jamal Murray and Skal Labissiere both on hand in New York — along with Coach Cal — to learn where they’ll start their professional careers.

We’ll have updates throughout the draft here.

In the meantime, hare a few links to check out beforehand, and during the draft.

▪  Check out our draft previews for all four ex-Cats that could be drafted tonight: Jamal Murray, Skal Labissiere, Tyler Ulis and Alex Poythress.

▪  ESPN analyst Chad Ford’s latest mock draft has Murray going fifth to the Timberwolves, Skal Labissiere ninth to the Raptors and Tyler Ulis 33rd to the Clippers.

▪  Yahoo Sports analyst Adrian Wojnarwoski is doing his own NBA Draft show online. If you watch, prepare to be spoiled early and often.

▪  Our guide to ex-Cats in the NBA before the addition of next year’s rookie class.

▪  ESPN’s Chad Ford has video breakdowns for all of the top prospects, including Murray, Labissiere and Ulis.

Dennis Varney: 859-231-3514, @ExCats

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