UK Athletics

Twenty-four former Kentucky Wildcats make opening-night NBA rosters

When the 2016-17 NBA season tips off this week, the league will be represented by 24 former Kentucky Wildcats, the most players from any single college program.

The Big Blue fraternity represents 5.4 percent of all current NBA players, according to a figure released by UK Basketball on Monday. Head coach John Calipari has long stated a goal of having at least one former Cat on every team's roster.

Kentucky features seven players on two teams alone -- Phoenix and Sacramento. Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, Brandon Knight and Tyler Ulis are all part of the Suns' opening-day roster with Archie Goodwin just narrowly missing the cut for five players in Phoenix. Meanwhile, DeMarcus Cousins, Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere will all open the season with the Kings.

Two other franchises – the Charlotte Hornets (Aaron Harrison, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) and the New Orleans Pelicans (Anthony Davis and Terrence Jones) – open the season with two Cats apiece.

Kentucky has placed 21 first-round picks and three No. 1 overall selections (Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns and John Wall) in the league during the Calipari Era. Towns was last season's unanimous pick for Rookie of The Year.

Rajon Rondo, now entering his 11th season in the league, is the most experienced Kentucky player in the league, while Ulis and Labissiere and Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets) will all enter their rookie seasons.

Calipari also coached Derrick Rose of the New York Knicks and Tyreke Evans of the New Orleans Hornets during his time at Memphis.

The former Calipari players in the NBA this season have a combined contract value of $751 million, according to spotrac.com.

The NBA season officially tips off Tuesday with three games. Rose and the New York Knicks will take on DeAndre Liggins and the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers at 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT, followed by Trey Lyles and the Utah Jazz versus the Portland Trail Blazers at 10 p.m. The San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors will cap the night at 10:30 on TNT.

Wildcats in The NBA

Eric Bledsoe – Phoenix Suns 

Devin Booker – Phoenix Suns 

Willie Cauley-Stein – Sacramento Kings 

DeMarcus Cousins – Sacramento Kings 

Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans 

Aaron Harrison – Charlotte Hornets 

Andrew Harrison – Memphis Grizzlies 

Terrence Jones – New Orleans Pelicans 

Enes Kanter – Oklahoma City Thunder 

Brandon Knight – Phoenix Suns 

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – Charlotte Hornets 

Skal Labissiere – Sacramento Kings

DeAndre Liggins – Cleveland Cavaliers

Trey Lyles – Utah Jazz 

Jodie Meeks – Orlando Magic

Jamal Murray – Denver Nuggets

Nerlens Noel – Philadelphia 76ers 

Patrick Patterson – Toronto Raptors 

Julius Randle – Los Angeles Lakers 

Rajon Rondo – Chicago Bulls 

Karl-Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves 

Tyler Ulis – Phoenix Suns 

John Wall – Washington Wizards 

James Young – Boston Celtics


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