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Kentucky's Fox declares for NBA Draft

Lexington Herald-Leader

Kentucky freshman point guard De'Aaron Fox announced Tuesday that he plans to enter the NBA Draft and sign with an agent, effectively ending his career at UK.

Fox guided Kentucky to the Southeastern Conference regular-season and tournament titles as well as an appearance in the Elite Eight.

"First of all, I'm grateful for the unbelievable season we had," Fox said in a statement released by UK. "Although the ending didn't turn out how we wanted it to, this team came together as a family and we achieved things that a lot of people didn't think we could because we were so young. I want to thank my teammates for being on this ride with me as well as the seniors and specifically Zay (Isaiah Briscoe) for guiding me this season.

"I want to thank God for blessing me with this talent to play at this level. I also want to thank my parents and my brother for always being there for me. I want to thank Cal, KP (Kenny Payne) and the entire coaching staff for recruiting me and for having the confidence in me to lead this team. Throughout the season they helped me grow as a player and as a person.

"With that being said, I've decided to enter the 2017 NBA Draft and I will be signing with an agent. I think I've had a pretty good freshman season through the guidance of our coaching staff and I think it's time for me to live out my dream.

"Last but not least, I want to thank the Big Blue Nation. There is no other fan base like you in the country. I'll miss playing in front of you, but I know you'll continue to support me at the next level."

Fox, the latest in a long list of John Calipari-coached point guards who have gone on to the NBA, is the first underclassman from the 2016-17 Wildcats to declare for the draft. Players have until April 23 to submit their names for the 2017 NBA Draft.

"De'Aaron's speed, length and ability to pick up defensively from 94 feet set him apart from his peers," Calipari said. "De'Aaron came in here focused from day one, and to see his improvement from the beginning of the season to the end was special.

"What you saw from De'Aaron over the last month and a half of the season I think is what NBA teams will get for the future."

Faced with the unenviable task of replacing 2016 Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year award winner Tyler Ulis, Fox filled his shoes admirably this season and made his mark as one of the nation's fastest and craftiest players. He averaged 16.7 points, 4.6 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals.

A four-time SEC Freshman of the Week selection, Fox was named the most valuable player of the 2017 SEC Tournament after leading the Wildcats to their third consecutive title. In addition to All-SEC First Team honors by the Associated Press and the league's coaches, Fox was named a third-team All-American by USA Today and CBS Sports.

Fox's 4.6 assists per game was the best mark in the SEC and 11th nationally among freshmen. The Houston native also ranked fourth in the SEC with a 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio. His scoring average was sixth in the SEC and 10th nationally among all freshmen.

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