Alex Poythress and Jamal Murray press conference
When a school has had 27 players chosen in the NBA draft since 2010, it can create some awkward situations.
For former Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis, draining the game-winning three-pointer that lifted Phoenix over Denver in the NBA Summer League quarterfinals last month was an early pro basketball career highlight.
It was less enjoyable for Jamal Murray, Ulis’ backcourt mate at Kentucky last season, who was playing for Denver.
After the buzzer beater, “I told (Ulis) I didn’t like him,” Murray joked. “He hit a big shot. That was disappointing (for Denver). But I was happy and proud (of Ulis) at the same time.”
Murray, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft by the Nuggets after leading Kentucky in scoring last season, was back in Lexington on Monday for the John Calipari UK Pro Camp. So was former UK forward Alex Poythress, who played for the Orlando Magic in the NBA Summer League.
Here are 10 quick hitters from an interview session Poythress and Murray held with local reporters Monday in the Memorial Coliseum media room:
10. Though Poythress went undrafted after averaging 10.2 points and six rebounds for Kentucky last season as a senior, the 6-foot-8 forward has not given up on the idea of being on an NBA roster this season.
Playing for Orlando in the NBA Summer League, Poythress averaged 5 points and 2.8 rebounds in 10.6 minutes a game.
“A couple of (NBA) teams have called with training camp invites,” Poythress said. “I’m not sure I can say which teams because I haven’t signed nothing yet. But things are looking optimistic, so that’s good.”
9. Poythress says he has talked with former UK teammates Dakari Johnson and Andrew Harrison — who each spent last year in the NBA Development League — and Aaron Harrison, who made the Charlotte Hornets last season as an undrafted free agent, about what to expect in the NBA.
“Aaron and Dakari, when we were down in Orlando (for the NBA Summer League), we went out to get some bites to eat,” Poythress said. “They just told me it’s a long process, keep grinding, keep pushing, stay in the gym (and) be humble.”
8. There is a specific path, Poythress believes, he can take to make it onto an NBA roster. “I’m going to be a defensive specialist coming in,” Poythress said. “If I can guard most positions (on the floor), that would be a good role for me.”
7. Poythress said he has not thought much about the option of playing professionally overseas. “I’ve looked at different options, but the NBA is the goal still,” he said. “I’ve still got the opportunity to do that. (NBA) teams feel optimistic about me.”
6. In the Las Vegas edition of the NBA Summer League, Murray struggled in his first two games for Denver, averaging only 10 points. In his next three contests, however, he looked like the guy who averaged 20 points and shot almost 41 percent on three-pointers as a UK freshman.
Murray wrapped up his Summer League season with games of 29, 20 and 29 points.
“I just found my role,” Murray said. “I played point guard, just scored the ball, found some guys.”
5. Joining a Denver roster that already features young guards Emmanuel Mudiay and Gary Harris, Murray said he did not know whether he would play more at the point in his rookie season or more in the shooting guard role he played at Kentucky.
4. The one year he spent playing at UK lived up to what he expected, Murray says. “A lot of fans, a lot of pressure — kind of, but not really,” he said. “A lot of responsibility, a lot of demand to win games. It was a lot of fun.”
3. Murray says he believes former Kentucky teammate Isaiah Briscoe, who will be a sophomore guard, is ready to accept the mantle of leadership for the 2016-17 Wildcats. “The best thing about it, he’s going to get it done on the defensive end more than anybody,” Murray said of Briscoe.
2. Poythress said he, Ulis and ex-Kentucky guard Devin Booker played pickup hoops this past weekend with members of next season’s Cats. “They are going to be real good, real athletic at the positions,” Poythress said.
Monk “is real athletic and real gifted offensively,” Poythress said. “Isaac has gotten a lot better. I think he’s going to have a good year.”