Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon

Kentucky players rule first round of NBA Draft

Willie Cauley-Stein speaks to the media after being

Willie Cauley-Stein speaks to the media after being selected sixth overall by the Sacramento Kings in the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 25, 2015. Credit: Getty Images / Elsa

Kentucky coach John Calipari's platoon system all but guaranteed that there would be no one star to decide the fate of the team and the season. No one star . . . because there were four of them.

While Karl-Anthony Towns, who was taken first by the Timberwolves in the NBA Draft, was the obvious standout, Kentucky had four players go in the lottery Thursday night -- the most of any team in the lottery era, which dates to 1985.

In doing so, Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles and Devin Booker taught onlookers a lesson worthy of Aesop himself: Be unselfish and reap the rewards.

"It's just great for the program," said Cauley-Stein, who was taken sixth by the Kings. "It shows that a bunch of young kids can come together and still win and, at the end of the day, still get drafted. There's a lot of scrutiny. Oh, [Calipari] can't take young guys and make them a team and make them win and still make them for each other, and still get them drafted."

He can, and he did. Lyles and Booker went back-to-back, going 12th and 13th to the Jazz and Suns, respectively.

Kentucky had seven draft-eligible players after losing only one game last season. The Wildcats had All-Americans in Towns and Cauley-Stein, while Lyles and Booker averaged only 23.0 and 21.5 minutes per game and still had a table reserved on the ground floor of the Barclays Center Thursday night.

"It just shows that if you . . . care about the team and not just yourself, you're going to be successful no matter what," Lyles said.

Cauley-Stein noted before the draft that many people don't understand how good the Kentucky crew can be because they were required to fill specific roles in college.

For instance, there was Booker, who's been called unathletic. "I've see this guy do 360 windmills," he said of his dunking ability. "Dude's athletic. But his role was to shoot threes and make free throws."

Booker wore Kentucky blue to his big day -- a tribute, he said. "I owed it to them after this big season that they gave us," he said.

It's also prepared him for his future with the Suns as they attempt to gain traction in a top-heavy Western Conference. "I know it's talented . . . and I know it's hard," he said. "That's why I went to Kentucky. We wanted everything hard and that's just how we do it."

New York Sports