Sidelines with John Clay

De’Aaron Fox has his NBA Draft suit all picked out

Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox (0) reacted to his breakaway dunk during his team’s 65-62 win over Wichita State in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, In., Sunday, March19, 2017. Fox is expected to be one of the first five players selected in Thursday’s NBA Draft.
Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox (0) reacted to his breakaway dunk during his team’s 65-62 win over Wichita State in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, In., Sunday, March19, 2017. Fox is expected to be one of the first five players selected in Thursday’s NBA Draft. cbertram@herald-leader.com

In advance of Thursday night’s NBA Draft, former Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox was on ESPN’s Mike and Mike on Monday morning.

Here’s the transcript:

Golic: How was the whole process for you as it’s finally going to end on Thursday?

Fox: “I’ve just been enjoying it. It’s nothing that’s been too tough. A lot of the times just going through the basketball stuff and then a lot of times just interviews with teams. It’s basically interviewing for a job.”

Golic: One of the things we talk about in the NFL Combine all the time is the crazy questions sometimes that people from the teams ask the players. Do you guys get that, do you get some crazy questions?

Fox: People do. You try to kind of prepare for them but you never know what people are going to throw at you. But I actually didn’t get those crazy questions. I’ve been asked that. I’m like, ‘Nah, I just didn’t get them.’ I’ve heard some. I’ve heard some stories. I heard Frank Mason’s at the combine. I wouldn’t have even had an answer for that.”

Greenberg: Generally speaking, you’ve been cool with what everyone asked you. It seems like normal things someone might ask someone who wants to be a professional basketball player?

Fox: Definitely. Nothing’s been off the wall. At least yet.

Greenberg: Your favorite player growing up was KG (Kevin Garnett). That’s interesting to me considering, I guess you didn’t know exactly how big you were going to be as a little kid. He wound up being a 7-footer and you’re more of a wing. What was it about him that attracted you?

Fox: Just his personality, the way he played the game. Actually my trainer, one of his best friends got drafted by the Timberwolves when KG was there. So I’ve heard stories about how crazy he is. But I love that in a player. That’s what really drew me to him.

Golic: You’re going to be at the top of the draft, is there competition amongst you guys about who’s No. 1 and where you get drafted, not only overall but by position, as well?

Fox: Not necessarily. We can’t really help where we’re drafted. At the end of the day, we’re going to play each other. We’re all friends at the top of the draft. We’ve known each other for years. We’re going to see each other in the NBA. We’re all competitive. We all want to play against each other anyways. I don’t know if they’re looking at it, but I don’t really care where we all end up.

Golic: Who have you known the longest?

Fox: The guy in this draft that I’ve known the longest is Jayson Tatum. We’ve known each other since the fourth grade. We’ve gone back. Our parents are good friends. We know each other’s parents very well. Jayson is probably the person I’ve known the longest.

Greenberg: All these guys, have you been playing against them since yu were very, very young.

Fox: Yes. Just about everybody that was a one-and-done this year I’ve played against almost my entire AAU career. You have some late bloomers, some guys come out late, but for the most part these guys have been at the top for six years.

Greenberg: Including Lonzo. You’ve been playing against Lonzo Ball for years. I’ve seen it. You’ve known him, you’ve known the dad, you’ve know the family?

Fox: Actually, I only knew him. I didn’t even know he had brothers until our senior year of high school.

Greenberg: Really. At what point did you become aware of that? At what point did you recognize the father was becoming a major factor in all this?

Fox: That was really just our senior year, too. I knew him junior year. I want to say they probably won state their junior year. But I remember they played against Malik (Monk’s) high school team. So then I knew he had brothers. But I never knew his dad until the following year.

Golic: Do you think people are rooting against Lonzo because of his dad at times? Is that fair?

Fox: Yeah, you have some people. But you can’t really control it. It doesn’t matter to me. I love Lonzo. He’s like another brother to me. On the court, we’re all competitive. We all want to beat each other. But off the court, we’re all so cool. We don’t let what happens on the court effect us.

Greenberg: The commercial you guys did for Foot Locker was one of the funniest things we’ve seen in a long time. What did you know about it going into it?

Fox: Going into it, I knew Jayson, Jonathan (Isaac) and I were going to talk about how our dads did this and that, good things. All they told us was Lonzo is going to go off a list of kind of what his dad’s been doing. I didn’t know how it was going to come out. But when I watched it the first time, I probably watched it 50 times in a row. It was hilarious. He has a sense of humor. I liked it.

Golic: How well does John Calipari prepare you for that one-and-done situation and then going on to the NBA?

Fox: He prepares us well. We come in and we’re kind of just thrown in the fire. We’ll have like the older guys teach us what to do for the first two weeks of the summer. Then after that you’ve got to pick up extremely fast. Especially at the point guard position. I started every game. It was pretty tough but it was nothing that someone can’t do. We’ve seen so many people go through it. You know that you can do it, but you know it’s a process.

Golic: At what point, when is that job yours?

Fox: Crazy thing is I graduated three days before I had to be on campus. So I didn’t even much have a summer. Soon as I graduated, started packing, was on campus and it was time to go to work.

Golic: I would say that was no summer.

Fox: Then you get that little time between summer school and the fall semester. You get about three weeks, barely. But I enjoyed it. The summer, I’d rather not have a summer kind of because I wouldn’t be doing anything. I really enjoyed my summer at Kentucky.

He came into my house, he just had so much swag. He doesn’t come in nervous. He doesn’t talk about anybody but Kentucky. He doesn’t even want to talk about himself.

De’Aaron Fox on John Calipari

Greenberg: (UK players) seem to buy into something bigger than your own draft stock. How does Calipari get you to do it?

Fox: It’s just his personality. He’s able to touch so many people in so many different places. He came into my house, he just had so much swag. He doesn’t come in nervous. He doesn’t talk about anybody but Kentucky. He doesn’t even want to talk about himself. He doesn’t talk about all the guys in the NBA who went to his school. You know that track record. Him coming in with that swag, it’s like, ‘I don’t have to talk about that. You know about that already. So I’m going to tell you what I think you can do.’ He doesn’t promise us anything. He never told me I was going to start. He never told me how many minutes I was going to play. That was just something that really drew me to him.

Golic: We’re you in high school when you realize, or know, or at least have the idea that wherever you go to college you’re a one-and-done?

Fox: You know, you really start seeing it, people start doing mock drafts so early, you’re probably a sophomore or junior in high school. You really start seeing things and you really start listening and paying attention. And it’s like, you know, it doesn’t really matter where I go. If I go and perform for a year I can go to the NBA. I can get drafted and live out my dreams. That’s how it was for us.

Greenberg: What was your mentality going into (NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game against Lonzo Ball and UCLA) because you dominated that matchup?

Fox: Playing against any player or any guard like that, supposed to be a top two pick in the draft, you should be up for that. People gave us their best every single game. Just knowing that it was an extremely important game. I just wish we could have got to the Final Four and win a national championship. All of our stock on the team would have probably been even higher. I knew going into that game I would have to have a good game. I went out and had a great game.

Three take-aways from Kentucky basketball’s big win over UCLA

Greenberg: Then the North Carolina game two days later, which I know ended in heartbreak for you and your teammates on the last-second shot that they make. Your emotional reaction afterward was so noticeable I think people were really moved by that. How would you describe now looking back on it what your feelings were?

Fox: I’m fine with how my reaction was. I wish we didn’t lose that way. You can’t really change anything. Things happen for a reason. I’m kind of happy they won the national championship. At least you all didn’t beat us and then go lose. And then I’m happy for my boy Justin Jackson. I’ve known him. He’s from Houston. I think we had a great season. We went on a three-game losing streak and then after that we won 15 in a row. Especially with that young group. We were like the youngest team in the tournament and we were able to go that far and lose to the most veteran team, the team that went to the national championship (game) two years in a row. I feel like we had a pretty successful season.

Three take-aways from Kentucky basketball’s loss to North Carolina

Golic: Any doubt in your mind you can, just like you started day one at Kentucky, you can go in and get handed the ball for some NBA team and fit right in?

Fox: I have no doubt in my mind that I can do it. The only thing is now you’re playing against grown men. It’s going to be a lot different. I think for me, the freshmen on our team, the jump from high school to college wasn’t very big. But I know from college to the NBA is going to be a lot larger. But you’ve seen guys do it all the time. You’ve seen 19, 20-year-old rookies go in and actually perform and do well. I know it’s something I can do but I know it’s going to be extremely challenging. That’s what I love about sports.

Greenberg: Have you been given a sense of what to expect Thursday?

Fox: Just a little. But you really never know what’s going to happen on draft night. Crazy things happen. We’re just going in open-minded. Wherever the chips play that’s where you’re going to go.

Golic: Do you think you’re the best player in the draft?

Fox: I do think I’m the best player in the draft. Every player, even if you’re in the back end of the second round, I feel like if you don’t think you’re the best player, if you don’t have that confidence in yourself to go into the NBA, it’s going to eat you alive.

Golic: By the way, you have a good suit ready and all that?

Fox: Oh yeah, I’ve had my suit picked out for about two weeks. I’m not going to give you any hints. You’ll see it Thursday night.

NBA Draft 2017 order

First round

  • 1. Boston (From Brooklyn)
  • 2. Los Angeles Lakers
  • 3. Philadelphia (from Sacramento)
  • 4. Phoenix
  • 5. Sacramento (from Philadelphia)
  • 6. Orlando
  • 7. Minnesota
  • 8. New York
  • 9. Dallas
  • 10. Sacramento (From New Orleans)
  • 11. Charlotte
  • 12. Detroit
  • 13. Denver
  • 14. Miami
  • 15. Portland
  • 16. Chicago
  • 17. Milwaukee
  • 18. Indiana
  • 19. Atlanta
  • 20. Portland (From Memphis via Denver and Cleveland)
  • 21. Oklahoma City
  • 22. Brooklyn (From Washington)
  • 23. Toronto (From LA Clippers via Milwaukee)
  • 24. Utah
  • 25. Orlando (From Toronto)
  • 26. Portland (From Cleveland)
  • 27. Brooklyn (From Boston)
  • 28. Los Angeles Lakers (From Houston)
  • 29. San Antonio
  • 30. Utah (From Golden State)

Second round

  • 31. Atlanta (From Brooklyn)
  • 32. Phoenix
  • 33. Orlando (From Los Angeles Lakers)
  • 34. Sacramento (From Philadelphia via New Orleans)
  • 35. Orlando
  • 36. Philadelphia (From New York via Utah and Toronto)
  • 37. Boston (From Minnesota via Phoenix)
  • 38. Chicago (From Sacramento via Cleveland)
  • 39. Philadelphia (From Dallas)
  • 40. New Orleans
  • 41. Charlotte
  • 42. Utah (From Detroit)
  • 43. Houston (From Denver)
  • 44. New York (From Chicago)
  • 45. Houston (From Portland)
  • 46. Philadelphia (From Miami via Atlanta)
  • 47. Indiana
  • 48. Milwaukee
  • 49. Denver (From Memphis via Oklahoma City)
  • 50. Philadelphia (From Atlanta)
  • 51. Denver (From Oklahoma City)
  • 52. Washington
  • 53. Boston (From Cleveland)
  • 54. Phoenix (From Toronto)
  • 55. Utah
  • 56. Boston (From LA Clippers)
  • 57. Brooklyn (From Boston)
  • 58. New York (From Houston)
  • 59. San Antonio
  • 60. Atlanta (From Golden State via Philadelphia and Utah)
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