College Basketball

Kentucky freshman Rob Dillingham declares for the NBA Draft: ‘I felt prepared’

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After his impressive first season in Kentucky, Rob Dillingham feels ready to test the NBA Draft waters, as he’s decided to pass up his remaining three years of eligibility and go professional. The freshman is expected to become a first-round pick and some mock drafts see him as the future No. 7 pick, as Kyrsten Peek projected for Yahoo Sports. 

“Dillingham is one of the quickest guards with the ball in his hands and showed scouts this year that he can create separation off the dribble and get good shots off. He averaged 15.2 points and 3.9 assists off the bench this year for Kentucky and is one of the best guards in this draft at getting downhill and finishing at the rim,” she reported.

The player confirmed his decision on Monday. “This was a decision I made with my family,” the 19-year-old said. “I felt prepared. Coach Calipari taught me a lot about how to be a better teammate and that it was not all about me.”

Others like ESPN see him as the No. 4 prospect in the NBA Draft projections, because he was recently named Sixth Man of the Year and second-team All-SEC after putting up averages of 15.2 points and 3.9 assists in 23 minutes per contest this campaign, while shooting at 44% from beyond the arc.

This year, Kentucky tied for second place in the SEC after posting a 13-5 mark and earned a No. 3 seed in the past NCAA Tournament. Even though they suffered a historic upset in the round of 64 by No. 14 seed Oakland, the team is heavily respected due to their future NBA prospects.

Their March Madness loss cost their head coach John Calipari’s departure for Arkansas, which was one of the biggest surprise moves of the offseason.

“It was an up-and-down season with a lot of great moments,” Dillingham recalled. “We won a lot of games with a young team. It was a great learning experience, and it was amazing to share it with my teammates. I learned how to be for everyone; that’s what wins games. Coach Cal has done a lot for Kentucky. I feel like he’s a great coach. Wherever he goes, he’ll be a great coach.”

The rising star doesn’t care what pick he’ll end up being, as long as he gets a chance to play professional basketball in the NBA

As the NBA Draft combine will be held from May 13 to 19 in Chicago, the youngster still has time to prepare. Even though Rob entered the campaign as a projected first-round pick, he doesn’t mind when he’ll end up being selected, as long as he gets a contract from an NBA franchise.

“It doesn’t matter what pick I am, if I get picked 60th. I want to go to a team that trusts me and can help me build, and I can build with them, and make me better. I just want to help my team win, and they can develop me and teach me things,” said the 19-year-old.

The Kentucky product proved he’s one of the most talented freshman players in college basketball, even though he mostly impacted coming off the bench. Scouts believe his advanced-ball handling, ability to drop in difficult shots and open-court explosiveness might make him a future star in professional sports.

Dillingham has until mid-June to decide if he will continue all the way to the Draft that will be held in New York City on June 26 and 27. “Anyone can be special if they put their mind toward it. Just have confidence. It’s about what you put your mind into,” he assured.