Although he sprinkled light-hearted comments through his 30-minute session with reporters Wednesday, Malik Monk had a sober response to a prompt about how the many players John Calipari has sent to the NBA impacted his college choice.
“Of course,” Monk said. “That was the reason I went to Kentucky. To be in this situation I am today.”
The situation Monk found himself was holding court in a mid-town hotel (next to Grand Central Station) on the eve of the 2017 NBA Draft.
Calipari’s proven record for sending players to the draft dwarfs Kentucky’s competition among college basketball’s blue bloods: Since becoming UK coach in 2009, Calipari has had 21 first-round picks, 28 players drafted overall and 11 among the top 10 selections.
In that time, Duke has the second-most first-rounders in that time with 11; Duke and Kansas have the second most overall players drafted (13) and the Blue Devils have the second-most top 10 selections with six.
That dominance makes Calipari something like college basketball’s Pied Piper. Prospect after prospect follows the sweet music of one college season and then off to the NBA.
A hypothetical question — what if Calipari coached at another school, say Tennessee or Pepperdine — and amassed such a history.
“I would have went to that school,” Monk said, “if he offered me.”
That echoed what two other UK players who participated in the media session and will attend Wednesday’s draft said. De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo said they found Kentucky’s record for producing pros enticing. Yes, they said, they’d sign up for Calipari’s program, wherever it existed.
Barely 24 hours before a long-held dream to be in the NBA comes true, Monk was in a joking mood.
When asked how he found the pre-draft process, Monk quipped, “bright” as he squinted into television camera lights.
Monk returned to this literally light-hearted theme when asked if he could handle the big lights of New York should he be drafted by the Knicks.
“There’s some big lights in front of me right now,” he said. “I think I’m handling them pretty well. . . . I think I’ll be pretty fine.”
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
NBA Draft order
1. Philadelphia (from Brooklyn through Boston)
2. L.A. Lakers
3. Boston (from Sacramento through Philadelphia)
5. Sacramento (from Philadelphia)
8. New York
10. Sacramento (from New Orleans)
20. Portland (from Memphis through Denver and Cleveland)
21. Oklahoma City
22. Brooklyn (from Washington)
23. Toronto (from L.A. Clippers through Milwaukee)
25. Orlando (from Toronto)
26. Portland (from Cleveland)
27. L.A. Lakers (from Brooklyn through Boston)
28. L.A. Lakers (from Houston)
29. San Antonio
30. Utah (from Golden State)
31. Charlotte (from Atlanta through Brooklyn)
33. Orlando (from L.A. Lakers)
34. Sacramento (from Philadelphia through New Orleans)
36. Philadelphia (from New York through Utah and Toronto)
37. Boston (from Minnesota through Phoenix)
38. Chicago (from Sacramento through Cleveland)
39. Philadelphia (from Dallas)
40. New Orleans
41. Atlanta (from Charlotte)
42. Utah (from Detroit)
43. Houston (from Denver)
44. New York (from Chicago)
45. Houston (from Portland)
46. Philadelphia (from Miami through Atlanta)
49. Denver (from Memphis through Oklahoma City)
50. Philadelphia (from Atlanta)
51. Denver (from Oklahoma City)
53. Boston (from Cleveland)
54. Phoenix (from Toronto)
56. Boston (from L.A. Clippers)
57. Brooklyn (from Boston)
58. New York (from Houston)
59. San Antonio
60. Atlanta (from Golden State through Philadelphia and Utah)