(Below is a running recap of the 2021 NBA Draft with breaking news, observations and commentary.)
1 a.m.: That’ll conclude our running recap. Thanks for following along! See y’all in 2022.
12:55 a.m.: Kentucky’s 55 NBA first-round draft picks, all time, are the most of any college in history.
12:53 a.m.: NBA analyst Mark Deeks named Bellarmine’s Pedro Bradshaw, who played at Russellville High School, as an undrafted prospect to keep an eye on following the end of Thursday’s draft.
12:45 a.m.: This year’s “Mr. Irrelevant” is Georgios Kalaitzakis, selected 60th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks.
12:33 a.m.: John Calipari needed two tweets to get out everything he wanted to say about B.J. Boston’s selection deep in the draft: .@bboston_ is going to use tonight as fuel and is going to have a great @NBA career. I am sure of it, just as sure as I am that teams are going to look back and wish they would have taken him sooner. BJ has length, an ability to score that few have and a huge ceiling. @bboston_ has landed with a great franchise with the @LAClippers that will give him time to grow, and my guess is we look back in a couple of years and realize how much he was hurt this past season by his hand injury and the COVID year. I know he is a special player. #LaFamilia
12:26 a.m.: Philadelphia picks Charles Bassey with the 53rd overall pick. Like Boston, Bassey at one time was considered a first-round-level talent.
12:22 a.m.: The Los Angeles Clippers recently on draft nights have have ended up with two Calipari guards who had quick success: Eric Bledsoe (2010) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2018), both first-round picks.
12:19 a.m.: Kentucky’s Brandon Boston finally off the board at No. 51 overall to Los Angeles Clippers (selected by Memphis, who traded it to New Orleans, who subsequently traded it again). A 6-foot-7 guard, Boston was a former top-10 recruit who averaged 11.5 points for the Wildcats in his lone season.
12:18 a.m.: My fiancée’s birthday is next week and I’m shopping for presents on Amazon between second-round draft picks. We’ve all been there, right?
12:17 a.m.: From the Herald-Leader’s Mark Story: David Johnson is the ninth player from the state of Kentucky taken in the NBA Draft in the 21st century. The last three of those nine, Ray Spalding (2018), Jay Scrubb (2020) and Johnson (2021), all played high school hoops for Trinity.
12:09 a.m.: The Raptors selected David Johnson with the 47th pick right after Banton. Johnson played two seasons at Louisville following a stellar prep career for Trinity High School, whom he led to a KHSAA Sweet Sixteen title as a senior.
12:08 a.m.: Dalano Banton, who played his first two collegiate seasons for Western Kentucky before finishing at Nebraska, was selected 46th overall by the Toronto Raptors. He is the first Canadian ever drafted by the Raptors.
11:52 p.m.: Still no B.J. Boston selection. Several other players with Kentucky connections — including Louisville native David Johnson — waiting, too.
11:40 p.m.: Upset that J.T. Thor ended up in Charlotte at No. 37. Was hoping the Thunder would take him.
11:36 p.m.: In case you’re curious, the lowest-drafted Kentucky player in John Calipari’s tenure was DeAndre Liggins. He was picked 53rd overall in 2011.
11:30 p.m.: Clippers took Jason Preston with the 33rd pick. His story is one of the coolest in the draft.
11:18 p.m.: See what Isaiah Jackson and every other first-round pick in this year’s draft will make. Hint: It’s a lot.
11:15 p.m.: The SEC had seven first-round selections in the 2021 NBA Draft, three more than the next-closest conferences (the ACC and Pac-12).
11:14 p.m: It is the first time in John Calipari’s tenure that multiple Kentucky players were not selected in the first round of the NBA Draft.
11:12 p.m.: Last selection of the first round: Santi Aldama, of Loyola-Maryland.
11:05 p.m.: Seems highly unlikely at this point that Brandon Boston will sneak into the first round.
11:01 p.m.: Jaden Springer, drafted 28th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers, made Tennessee the first SEC school with multiple selections in this year’s draft. He was an All-SEC Freshman who averaged 12.5 points per game for the Volunteers last season.
10:58 p.m.: Isaiah Jackson at his draft-night table sat with a painting of the late Terrence Clarke.
10:52 p.m.: LSU’s Cam Thomas goes 27th overall to the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets will pick again at No. 29 thanks to a trade with the Phoenix Suns.
10:44 p.m.: As far as names in this draft go, gonna be hard to top Nah’Shon Lee “Bones” Hyland. He goes No. 26 overall to the Denver Nuggets (home of ex-Cat Jamal Murray).
10:41 p.m.: The Indiana Pacers on July 8 shared a pre-draft interview with Jackson following a workout with their team.
10:39 p.m.: Adam Silver officially (and comically) acknowledged the Isaiah Jackson trade.
10:37 p.m.: The Knicks finally draft a player they’ll reportedly keep in Quentin Grimes, who spent two years at Kansas before finishing at Houston last season. He shot 40.3 percent from three-point range with the Cougars, whom he led to the 2021 Final Four.
10:31 p.m.: Per Charania, Jackson was dealt to the Indiana Pacers for Aaron Holiday, whom the Pacers picked 23rd overall in 2018.
10:29 p.m: Jackson is the 32nd player selected from Kentucky during John Calipari’s tenure, which started with the 2009-2010 school year.
10:24 p.m.: Isaiah Jackson is the first Kentucky star off the board! The All-SEC Defensive Team selection blocked 2.6 shots per game. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers, who traded the 22nd overall pick to the Washington Wizards, who since have reportedly traded the pick to the Indiana Pacers.
10:20 p.m.: Tennessee’s Keon Johnson, holder of the NBA combine’s record for a vertical jump (48 inches, or four feet), was drafted by the New York Knicks, but won’t be joining Julius Randle and Kenny Payne; he’s reportedly being dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Knicks, who traded a pick earlier in the draft, will now select 25th overall.
10:13 p.m.: Jalen Johnson, something of a journeyman already in his youth, is picked 20th overall by Atlanta. The draft’s biggest example of “high risk, high reward.”
10:02 p.m.: The New York Knicks, drafting for the Charlotte Hornets as the result of a trade for a future first-round pick, pick Kai Jones out of future SEC-member Texas.
9:59 p.m.: Tre Mann is the third player selected by the Oklahoma City Thunder in this draft. A lot of new teammates for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
9:54 p.m.: Impressed with Cade Cunningham in this ESPN interview. Speaks as well as he plays.
9:40 p.m.: That was a wonderful tribute to Terrence Clarke.
9:25 p.m.: Arkansas star Moses Moody rounds out the lottery selections at No. 14, the Warriors’ second pick in the draft. UK goes without a lottery pick for the second straight year.
9:23 p.m.: The Indiana Pacers select Chris Duarte, the first senior picked, with the No. 13 pick.
9:18 p.m.: Joshua Primo gets the distinction of being the first player selected from the Southeastern Conference. He was picked No. 12 overall. The Alabama freshman, as ESPN noted, is the youngest player in the draft.
9:08 p.m.: UConn guard James Bouknight will join P.J. Washington (and, perhaps, Malik Monk) in Charlotte, home of reigning Rookie of the Year Lamelo Ball. Bouknight began his career at Auburn.
9:01 p.m.: Ziaire Williams, a forward out of Stanford, goes 10th overall. He was drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans but is headed to the Memphis Grizzlies as part of a trade that also includes ex-Cat Eric Bledsoe (also Memphis bound).
Williams was on the same high school team in 2019-20 as B.J. Boston, a UK freshman expected to go later in tonight’s draft.
8:55 p.m.: Last year was the first time under John Calipari that Kentucky didn’t have a player selected in the lottery portion of the NBA Draft. With the Sacramento Kings’ selection of Davion Mitchell, out of Baylor, with the ninth pick, that leaves five picks for an ex-Cat to prevent a streak.
8:51 p.m.: With their second lottery selection, the Orlando Magic picked Franz Wagner (a second team All-Big Ten selection) with the No. 8 pick. He is the brother of current Orlando player Mo Wagner.
8:47 p.m.: A second G League star is off the board: Jonathan Kuminga goes No. 7 to the Golden State Warriors. They have another lottery selection at No. 14 later.
8:40 p.m.: Josh Giddey, an 18-year-old guard out of Australia, goes sixth overall to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Another surprise early; most mocks had Giddey going outside of the top 10 selections.
8:32 p.m.: The Orlando Magic are taking Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs, maker of the most memorable shot in this year’s NCAA Tournament, with the No. 5 pick.
8:27 p.m.: Scottie Barnes of Florida State goes No. 4 overall to Toronto. First legitimate surprise of the night, the Lakers-Wizards trade notwithstanding.
8:22 p.m.: Terms of the Westbrook trade from Charania: To the Wizards go Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and the No. 22 pick in this year’s draft. Lakers receiving Westbrook and two second-round picks, in 2024 and 2028.
8:21 p.m.: EVAN MOBLEY IS A CLEVELAND CAVALIER LET’S GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
8:20 p.m.: The Lakers-Wizards trade, with Russell Westbrook at the center, has been formally agreed to, per Wojnarowski.
8:15 p.m.: G League star Jalen Green goes No. 2 overall to the Houston Rockets. Auburn was one of the favorites to land Green had he gone to school, but UK was heavily involved in his recruitment before he ultimately chose to forego college.
8:10 p.m.: Jon Rothstein with some draft-night news on the scheduling front: UK reportedly will host Central Michigan, helmed by former Calipari assistant Tony Barbee, on Nov. 29.
8:08 p.m.: As expected, Cade Cunningham goes No. 1 overall. He is the first Oklahoma State player selected with the first pick in the NBA Draft.
Bob Lanier was the last No. 1 overall pick by the Detroit Pistons in their history; the Hall of Fame member was drafted in 1970. Their only other time selecting first overall was three drafts prior in 1967, when they took Jimmy Walker, who would go on to become a two-time All-Star.
Bob Harris, picked third overall in 1949, was formerly the highest-picked Oklahoma State player. He too was selected by the Pistons, then based out of of Fort Wayne, Ind.
8:02 p.m.: It’s draft time!
7:45 p.m.: If I don’t hear, “And with the third pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select Evan Mobley, center, from Southern Cal” tonight then I’m going to be highly disappointed.
7:39 p.m.: Keith Bogans was the only UK player selected in the 2003 draft. He was picked 43rd overall by the Milwaukee Bucks and played through the 2013-14 season.
7:37 p.m.: ESPN’s Jay Bilas just called this “the deepest draft since 2003” during the pre-draft show. The top five picks that year, in order: LeBron James, Darko Milicic, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Not bad.
7:30 p.m.: Detroit, holders the top overall pick, is reportedly sending former Duke star Mason Plumlee to Charlotte (where ex-Cats Malik Monk and P.J. Washington play) for the No. 37 and No. 57 picks in this year’s draft.
7:12 p.m.: Other ex-Cats who will be involved in free agency: Willie Cauley-Stein (club option), Malik Monk (restricted free agent), Patrick Patterson (unrestricted free agent), Jarred Vanderbilt (restricted free agent), Hamidou Diallo (restricted free agent) and DeMarcus Cousins (unrestricted free agent).
7:08 p.m.: Big men Enes Kanter and Nerlens Noel also will be unrestricted free agents. Noel, 26, rejuvenated his desirability as a key part of the New York Knicks’ rotation last season; he averaged a career-high 2.2 blocks per game and played 24.2 minutes per game, the third-most in his career and most since his third year in the league.
Kanter, who famously wasn’t ruled eligible to play for Kentucky by the NCAA, has made a good living as a journeyman big; he’s made about $100 million in 10 seasons. Kanter played 72 games last season for the Portland Trail Blazers, his second stint with that franchise.
6:57 p.m.: Trey Lyles is possibly the most intriguing ex-Cat hitting free agency next week. Drafted in 2015, he’s coming off a career low in points (5.0 ppg) and minutes played (15.6) in just 23 games played for the San Antonio Spurs in the 2020-21 season. An ankle injury sidelined him for about the last month of the season. He’s just 26, and has a skill set that’ll suit contenders looking to build out depth down their roster.
Lyles is an unrestricted free agent who made $5.5 million last season.
6:40 p.m.: The NBA’s free agency period typically begins July 1, a few weeks after the draft. This year it starts Aug. 2. That’s right, Monday.
6:36 p.m: GQ Sports just shared a photo of Isaiah Jackson in his draft-night suit.
6:26 p.m.: It is widely believed that Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham will be selected No. 1 overall by the Detroit Pistons tonight. The Herald-Leader’s Ben Roberts last June described Kentucky as Cunningham’s “clear second choice;” how much of a difference would he have made for the 9-16 Wildcats last season?
6:19 p.m.: I’m higher on Westbrook as a player than many of my peers, but I’m skeptical of how he’ll pair alongside LeBron in crunch time. He’s barely shot above 30 percent from three-point range in his career and is a high-usage player. Love his intensity, and think he’ll be great with Davis in minutes when James isn’t on the floor, but it’s not going to matter much if they can’t all three get it together at the same time. Hield seems like a much better plug-and-play fit alongside the Lakers’ current stars.
6:09 p.m.: A less star-studded report, but one of interest to this resident Cavaliers fan — Ricky Rubio, a teammate of ex-Cat Karl-Anthony Towns last year in Minnesota, is reportedly headed to Cleveland in exchange for Taurean Prince.
6:06 p.m.: UK coach John Calipari won’t be in New York for Thursday’s draft. From his Twitter account: “I have been at every @NBADraft for as long as I can remember to support our players on Graduation Day. Unfortunately, tonight I will miss the draft for reasons out of my control. I called @IJackson22 this week to let him know. He understood but it was a really tough phone call for me because I really wanted to be there for him for his big day. I’ve been on the phone the last few days and I’ll be keeping a close eye on everything tonight and making phone calls as needed. Good luck to @IJackson22, @bboston_ and @sarr_olivier!”
6:05 p.m.: Multiple reports — including ones from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Shams Charania, two must-follows on draft night — have Russell Westbrook joining forces with LeBron James and 2012 Kentucky champion Anthony Davis in Los Angeles. The Lakers reportedly are sending Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and former Louisville star Montrezl Harrell, and possibly more, to the Washington Wizards for Westbrook.
Wojnarowski reported earlier in the night that a similar package from the Lakers could be sent to Sacramento for Buddy Hield, who played at Oklahoma and was recruited there by Kentuckian Chris Crutchfield, but the Westbrook deal appears to be the Lakers’ first priority.
6 p.m.: Welcome to the Herald-Leader’s annual recap of the NBA Draft! It’s always a blast. We hope you have as much fun as we do.