MIAMI (AP) — Pat Riley turned to his alma mater for Miami’s latest first-round draft pick.
The Heat took Kentucky’s Bam Adebayo with the No. 14 pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday night, adding someone who got to the rim with ease in his lone college season. Adebayo made 170 shots from the field for the Wildcats, 101 of those being dunks.
“I’m ready to get started,” Adebayo said. “I’m ready to get in that Heat jersey.”
Adebayo shot 60 percent in his lone college season, averaging 13.0 points and a team-best 8.0 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-10, 243-pounder was a McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school, then was an All-SEC second-team pick this past season.
He could fill a void for Miami with the likely loss of backup center Willie Reed in free agency. Reed is likely to command a salary that is outside of Miami’s capabilities this summer.
Heat center Hassan Whiteside — noting that Adebayo played his high school ball in High Point, North Carolina — sounded like he approved of the move.
“We needed another player from North Carolina on the squad,” said Whiteside, a native of Gastonia, North Carolina.
Adebayo is in line to become the 10th Kentucky player to appear in a game for the Heat. No other college has seen more of its players get onto the floor with Miami; Duke and Syracuse each have eight.
Adebayo said he simply competed in his workout in Miami, and let his play do the talking.
“It was fun,” Adebayo said. “They liked my energy. They liked my effort.”
Adebayo becomes only the second lottery pick for the Heat in the last nine drafts, the other being No. 10 Justise Winslow in 2015. He was also the third player from Kentucky — where Riley, the Heat president, starred in the 1960s — to go in the first 14 picks of this draft, joining No. 5 De’Aaron Fox and No. 11 Malik Monk.
“We’re like brothers,” Adebayo said. “This is like our graduation.”
The nickname Bam — his given name is Edrice — came from when he watched the Flintstones as a child and somehow managed to turn over a coffee table.
The Heat went 41-41 last season, missing the playoffs despite winning 30 of their final 41 games. Adebayo is expected to be in Miami to begin workouts with the Heat summer league team next week.
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