UK’s Wallace 10th pick in NBA Draft

Published 4:00 pm Friday, June 23, 2023

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Cason Wallace didn’t have to wait long for his name to be called in the NBA Draft on Thursday night.

The Kentucky guard was selected as the 10th pick by the Dallas Mavericks. Wallace was later traded to Oklahoma City for Dereck Lively II of Duke. Lively was the No. 12 pick in the draft by the Thunder.

Wallace, accompanied by his family and Kentucky coach John Calipari at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, was elated by the pick.

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“There’s a lot going on and a lot of emotions right now,” Wallace said in a television interview. “I’m just grateful that I’m healthy and I thank God that I’m here (tonight) and there’s still more work to be done.”

ESPN commentator Jay Bilas said Wallace has a “very high IQ” as a defender and will succeed at the next level on both ends of the court.

“He’s good off the ball, he is excellent on the ball and he can play the point (and) off-guard,” Bilas said. “He’s a good shooter, a good shooter in the mid-range, he can knock it down from three and he’s just got a very steady game.”

Bilas cited the transition of Wallace when he took over at point guard mid-way through the season last year, which enabled the former Kentucky guard to display his versatility at the collegiate level.

“He was spectacular (against Tennessee),” Bilas recalled.” I think he’s a big-time player. Is he the type of guy that’s going to go out and get you 40 in a game or be spectacular in one area of the game? I wouldn’t say so. He’s just really good in every aspect of the game. He’s a winner and a leader. I love this pick.”

Calipari was elated to be in attendance to watch his former player get drafted in the opening round.

“I love this family and the way they support each other,” he said in a social media post. “(I’m) excited for Cason, but also his parents Mike and Kim, his brother Keaton and cousin Terrel. This isn’t just a basketball family, this is a great family.”

Former Kentucky standouts Oscar Tshiebwe, Chris Livingston and Jacob Toppin also were eligible for the draft. Livingston was chosen as the 58th and final pick of the draft by the Milwaukee Bucks.