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Kentucky leads the way with three members of USA Basketball Olympic Team

Men’s basketball player Anthony Davis before being inducted into UK Athletic’s Hall of Fame at Woodford Reserve Club in Kroger Field on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Just as it did with the NBA All Star Game, Kentucky men’s basketball made headlines once again for leading the way with the USA Basketball Olympic Team.

UK guard Devin Booker (1) shoots the ball during the second half of the University of Kentucky men’s basketball game vs. Eastern Kentucky University at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., on Sunday, December 7, 2014. UK won 82 – 49. Photo by Tessa Lighty

The roster, featuring 12 players, had three former Cats on it, with no other college having more than one representative. The three Cats made up 25% of the entire roster.

Kentucky’s Devin Booker, Anthony Davis and Bam Adebayo were selected as part of the roster after having strong seasons with each of their respective teams as well as previous national team experience.

Booker is a franchise piece for the Phoenix Suns who have struggled on the season overall despite “DBook” averaging 27.1 points per game and shooting nearly 50% from the field.

The selection for the Paris Olympic team marked Booker’s second Olympic selection after also taking part in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in which the United States won the gold medal.

Booker played on season at Kentucky on the seemingly invincible 2014-15 roster that finished the season 38-1. He is a former McDonald’s All American, SEC Sixth Man of the Year and SEC All Freshman Team honoree. He declared for the NBA Draft where he was selected No. 13 overall by the Suns.

In the NBA Booker has been named an NBA All Star four times, including this season, and has received honors of the All-NBA First Team, NBA All Rookie First Team and was crowned NBA Three-Point Contest Champion in 2018.

Davis, a key member of the Los Angeles Lakers — alongside fellow Paris Olympian LeBron James — and has averaged 24.7 points per game and 12.6 rebounds per game.

The Olympics appearance was also the second for Davis, who also won gold with the United States in London in 2012. He also won gold with the United States in the FIBA World Cup in Spain in 2014.

Davis helped lead Kentucky to win the 2012 National Championship, the only former head coach John Calipari would win in Lexington. His team finished 38-2 and outlasted Louisville in the Final Four and Kansas in the National Championship to win Kentucky’s eighth title.

Anthony Davis throws up the “three goggles” during the game against Kansas University in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York on Nov. 15, 2011. Photo by Latara Appleby | Staff

Unsurprisingly Davis declared for the NBA Draft and was selected No. 1 overall by the New Orleans Pelicans. While in college Davis earned a plethora of awards including 2012 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player, National College Player of the Year, SEC Player of the Year and was the NCAA blocks leader. He was also a former McDonald’s All American.

In the NBA Davis was with the Pelicans until 2019 when he joined James in Los Angeles. The duo would lead the Lakers to a NBA record-tying 17th NBA Championship in 2020. In 2023 the pair also won the inaugural NBA Play-In Tournament.

He is a nine-time NBA All Star and was featured on the NBA 75th Anniversary Team while also boasting a plethora of other accomplishments.

Finally, Adebayo has become a major player for the Miami Heat, averaging 19.3 points per game and 10.4 rebounds per game.

The Paris selection was also the second for Adebayo, who won gold in Tokyo alongside Booker in 2020.

Adebayo was part of the 2016-17 Kentucky team that finished 32-6 before being defeated in the Elite Eight by No. 1 North Carolina. The 2016-17 Cats were SEC Regular Season and SEC Tournament champions.

Coming from High Point Christian Academy, Adebayo was a McDonald’s All American and former North Carolina Mr. Basketball. In college he was named to the second team All-SEC and SEC All-Freshman Team.

Kentucky Wildcats forward Bam Adebayo slams home a dunk against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament South Regional Elite 8 at FedExForum in Memphis, TN on Friday March 24, 2017. Photo by Michael Reaves | Staff

Being drafted No. 14 overall by the Miami Heat, Adebayo has remained in South Beach where he has been a three-time NBA All Star.

The three are expected to represent the United States alongside James, former Davidson Wildcat Stephen Curry, former Texas Longhorn Kevin Durant, former Kansas Jayhawk Joel Embiid, former Duke Blue Devil Jayson Tatum, former Iowa State Cyclone Tyrese Haliburton, former Georgia Bulldog Anthony Edwards, former UCLA Bruin Jrue Holiday and former San Diego State Aztec Kawhi Leonard.

If any of these athletes are unable to take part in the Olympic team due to the NBA Playoffs or injury, there are a number of alternatives including De’Aaron Fox and Tyler Herro from Kentucky.

The 2024 Paris Olympics are set to begin on Friday, July 26, and will run into Sunday, August 11.

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Cole Parke, Sports Editor

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