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Bam Adebayo an NBA Draft lottery pick in eyes of John Calipari

Calipari made a bold prediction that Bam could go much higher than anyone expects in the NBA Draft.

NCAA Basketball: Louisiana State at Kentucky
Calipari talks with forward Edrice Bam Adebayo (3) during a time out in the game against the LSU Tigers in the second half at Rupp Arena.
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

John Calipari is a salesman in every sense of the word.

In a Tuesday teleconference with the media, the Kentucky coach spoke quite highly of Bam Adebayo’s draft stock, suggesting that 6-10 big man could even be a lottery pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, which is set for June 22.

Cal said NBA scouts were impressed with Adebayo’s ability to shoot outside the paint, as reported by Kentucky Sports Radio’s Drew Franklin:

“Right now everybody is stunned at how Bam shoots the ball,” he said. “I must have had 10 calls. Like, ‘I didn’t realize he shot the ball this way.’ But they also didn’t realize Karl shot the ball that way and you also didn’t realize that Anthony shot the ball the way he does. And so you would think following this thing how we do it, they all have to share, they all have to give up something to each other to be able to do what they’re doing here.” has Adebayo projected as the 18th pick going to the Pacers, and the latest mock draft from has him as the 24th pick going to the Jazz.

There was a time when at least one of the two sites did not projected Adebayo as a first rounder, which speaks volumes to his work ethic since over the past two months.

Coach Cal has a knack for motivating his players to believe that they can be better than they are at any given moment. He has to sell his players on their own individual abilities before going to try and help sell one’s game to an NBA franchise. Has he ever over-exaggerated the abilities of one of his college players when speaking to their NBA Draft potential?

There are always questions leading up to draft night, and many times analysts literally have no idea where a given player will fall, so they use their best guess. Many times predictions vary drastically among different analysts and among Coach Cal. Here’s a look at how Calipari has marketed a few similar players over the past couple of years and how they’ve fared...

June 21, 2016: Coach Cal on Skal Labissiere:

“People would look at Skal and say, ‘Well, he had a disappointing year.’ No he didn’t. No he didn’t. We all had to look at where he started and then where he finished. The best thing that they like about Skal right now: He never gave up. He did not quit. It was extremely hard, and he finished at his best. … I was trying to use the blueprint of Karl Towns and Anthony Davis. Guess what? That lesson plan didn’t fit him. … Now these teams are looking at Skal and saying, ‘You know what? He fought through Kentucky. He made it through. He didn’t use it as an excuse.”

Notice Cal didn’t offer a specific range or round where he thought Skal should go.

Skal was taken in the first round by the Sacramento Kings with the 28th pick in last year’s draft. He did not play a ton early on, but began seeing the court in March and April after another former UK big man, DeMarcus Cousins, was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans. Skal average 8.8 points and 4.9 rebounds in 33 games in his rookie season. He started in 12 of those games.

June 20, 2015: Coach Cal on Dakari Johnson:

“In the league right now, everybody is talking about getting smaller,” Coach Cal said.

“Well, all of a sudden you have a chance late in that first round to get a 7-footer and you’re saying, ‘There’s just not many guys with this kind of body.’ When you talk about – hey, he can go bang with one of these big guys, he can.

“From what I’m hearing, it’s late first (round). Maybe something happens where someone goes to those three teams that are saying right now that he’s right there and they get somebody and maybe he drops early second, but I just can’t see it right now. What I’m hearing back there is he’ll be in that late first somewhere.”

Cal was a little off on this one. Dakari wasn’t taken until the 48th pick in the second round. He went to the Oklahoma City Thunder and was then sent to the organization’s NBA D-League team, the Oklahoma City Blue. Johnson has performed well in two seasons in the D-League, making the All-Star Game in his second season and averaging 18.5 points and nearly 8 rebounds per game. While he has yet to make an NBA appearance, some believe his time is coming soon.

Hopefully Calipari is right about Bam.