ATLANTA – Unable to work out for NBA teams before the NBA Draft because of a knee injury he suffered in February vs. Missouri, Kentucky men’s basketball forward Reid Travis will get his opportunity to show NBA teams what he can do during the NBA Summer League with the Atlanta Hawks.
Travis and the Hawks will begin NBA Summer League play July 6 in Las Vegas with the first of four games (not including the playoffs). Travis hopes to turn the opportunity into a longer deal with an NBA franchise.
“I’m so happy for Reid to get the opportunity to show NBA teams what we already know,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “Reid is a completely different player than he was a year ago and he’s become the best version of himself. He moves better, he’s playing above the rim, he’s blocking shots and dunking balls. We saw that develop during the season, but unfortunately because of the knee injury, he was unable to show that to NBA teams in the workouts leading up to the draft.
“Now Reid is on his way back and will get to show NBA teams what a great presence he can be for a team, especially one with a young locker room. He’s physically ready to make an impact, he’s an unbelievable teammate and he will do whatever it takes to win.”
Travis, a graduate transfer from Stanford, made a huge impression with the Wildcats in his lone season at Kentucky. The two-time First Team All-Pac 12 selection provided UK with valuable leadership, experience and, of course, production in his one season in Lexington.
Travis came to Kentucky to become a more versatile player and suit up in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in his career, and he was able to achieve both this season. He averaged 11.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game for the 30-7 Wildcats and recorded three double-doubles. Travis connected on 53.7 percent of his field goals and 73.2 percent of his free throws. He also blocked 23 shots, more than he combined for in his previous four seasons at Stanford.
The 6-foot-8 forward was at his best against the best. He averaged 12.9 points and a team-best 8.7 rebounds in the 11 games he played in vs. Associated Press Top 25 opponents.
Travis’ value was best illustrated in the closing stretch of 2018-19. After missing five games with a sprained right knee, Travis came back better than ever. Over the last six games — all in the postseason — he averaged 32.2 minutes per game, 11.0 points and 8.3 rebounds. That included a gritty 44 minutes vs. Auburn in the Elite Eight just a month after he sprained his knee. He shot 64.1 percent and 75.0 percent from the free-throw line during that span.
Included in that all-important stretch were the two NCAA Tournament-opening games when PJ Washington was sidelined with a sprained left foot. Drawing more attention and responsibility without Washington, Travis reminded everyone he was still capable of carrying a leading load with 18 points, nine rebounds and an assist in 26 minutes vs. Abilene Christian. He was 8 of 10 from the field and corralled four offensive rebounds. Travis really shouldered a lot of weight in the close win over Wofford with 14 points and 11 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. He played 37 minutes vs. the Terriers.
Travis’ ability on the floor and his leadership off it was recognized by being one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award. Honoring student-athletes who excel both on and off the court, the candidates had to be NCAA Division I seniors with notable achievements in four areas of excellence in community, classroom, character and competition to be eligible for the award.
Travis is one of four Wildcats headed to the NBA from the 2019-20 team. Last week, three Wildcats were selected in the 2019 NBA Draft as Washington (No. 12, Charlotte Hornets), Tyler Herro (No. 13, Miami Heat) and Keldon Johnson (No. 29, San Antonio Spurs) were all picked in the first round.
In 10 seasons with Calipari at the helm, Kentucky has churned out three No. 1 selections, 29 first-rounders, 21 lottery picks and 38 total players in the NBA Draft. The 38 draft picks are 14 more than the next closest school (Duke). With another surge of first-round picks, Kentucky has more first-round selections (39) than any other school in the NBA lottery era (since 1985).
The Wildcats have had more top-10 picks, more lottery selections and more first-round picks in the Calipari era than any other team in the country. For the fifth time in 10 seasons under Calipari, UK churned out at least three first-round selections.
With another banner NBA Draft last week, Kentucky continued a streak of 10 straight drafts with multiple players selected in the first round. UK is the only program since the draft went to two rounds in 1989 to have multiple players selected in the first round in 10 straight years. Calipari is the only coach to have multiple players selected in 12 consecutive NBA Drafts, dating back to his time at Memphis. UK has had multiple lottery selections in seven of 10 drafts under Calipari and has featured a player in the lottery in all 10 drafts under Calipari, which no other school can claim.
The NBA Summer League begins July 1 with the Salt Lake City League and the California Classic. The Las Vegas League, which will feature all 30 teams and the Chinese and Croatian National Teams, begins July 5 and concludes July 15.
For the third consecutive year, ESPN will present every game from Las Vegas via the ESPN App, along with 43 games on its linear television networks (ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU). NBA TV will air a record 40 games.
Complete rosters for the NBA Summer League will be announced at a later time but several Wildcats are expected to be in action.
The NBA Summer League is an important time of the year for professional players to either earn a free-agent contract, solidify their spot on an NBA roster, or develop and earn additional playing time for the NBA regular season.