De’Aaron Fox discusses Lakers, Kings workouts, rivalry with Lonzo Ball in exclusive Q&A
The NBA Draft is on Thursday, and one of the fastest-rising prospects on the board is De’Aaron Fox, who played one season at the University of Kentucky before turning pro. Fox began his ascent all the way back in March with a dominant 39-point effort against fellow projected lottery pick Lonzo Ball in the NCAA tournament and hasn’t slowed down since. He could go as high as No. 2 on draft night, and it seems unlikely he’ll fall out of the top five.
So what is on Fox’s mind as he counts down to the most important night of his life? He sat down with FOX Sports last week to discuss a number of topics, ranging from his day-to-day draft prep to workouts with the Kings and Lakers to whether he should be selected over Ball based on their head-to-head matchup.
FOX SPORTS: You’ve been on this journey toward the NBA your whole life, and I actually want to start at the end. How cool is it going to be to hear your name on draft night? To be there with your family, celebrate with them what is really a lifetime’s worth of accomplishment?
DE’AARON: It’s more just a sign of relief. Like, “I finally made it.” But I know the work is just getting started. [Getting to the NBA], that was the easy part. The hardest part is to actually stay there. Hearing my name, I’m going to be excited, to be able to walk across that stage, all the bright lights, being able to shake the commissioner’s hand, it’ll be extremely fun.
FOX SPORTS: Looking at this journey in the big picture, what have been some of the more memorable parts? It can go back to your youth, shooting hoops in the driveway, whatever it is. But what really stands out about the journey so far?
DE’AARON: Mine are just the AAU events. Just out of the top five [draft picks] I’ve known Josh [Jackson] for years, Markelle [Fultz] for years, Lonzo [Ball] for a few years. I’ve known Jayson [Tatum] since the fourth grade. Just going on this journey with guys that I can call friends before we make it to the NBA, that’s probably the most gratifying for me. Justin Jackson is from Houston [I’ve known him]. Just to be able to say we’ve all made it, this is our dream since we were 12, 13 years old, and we’re finally here.
FOX SPORTS: For the casual fan, what has this process been like? From the day you decided to leave Kentucky to now, what has life been like?
DE’AARON: When I’m out here [in Los Angeles] a regular workout day is coming in at like 9 (a.m.), 9:30, getting in a regular basketball workout. At 11:30 we’re into weights for about an hour, finish up, eat. Then for like an hour, do whatever you want, come back at 2 or 3’clock and work on shooting. Then you’re done by 4 o’clock, and I’m 20 minutes from Malibu, get to the beach. I really enjoy the days, it’s tough, but that’s what you want. I’m really enjoying the process of making it to the NBA.
FOX SPORTS: With all that work, what have you improved upon most? What are people going to see night one in Summer League and go, “Oh wow!”
DE’AARON: I’ve really improved upon my shooting. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but that’s a knock [that I’ve had to overcome]. Also, I’ve changed my body, gotten stronger. Those are the things that everyone was talking about [throughout the process]. Otherwise, I’ve got my game [that I’ve always had], my floaters, I can make passes on a dime, can really defend, get hands on balls, rebound from the point guard position.
Those two things, being able to show people that I can play physically in the game and that I’m able to shoot the ball [are what I’ve improved on the most].
FOX SPORTS: It’s funny, it seems like your shot [Fox made just 24 percent of his three-pointers last season] was a huge deal at Kentucky, but now no one seems to be worried. Why is it that no one is concerned at all?
DE’AARON: I think it’s just the repetition of [being able to practice] it. Now that I’m preparing for the NBA I don’t have class to worry about, anything to worry about. I can be in the gym all day, get the reps in. I’m confident in my shot. So if someone is worried about it, that’s on them.
FOX SPORTS: What’s your favorite part about living in LA these last couple months?
DE’AARON: The weather, honestly. Lexington is cold. Houston is extremely hot; Houston is where I’m from. Here, I can sit outside and not worry about sweating.
FOX SPORTS: I heard even though you’re living in LA you haven’t actually gotten to the beach much.
DE’AARON: No, I’m a homebody. Basically, all I’m doing now is what I’ve always done since I’ve been in eighth grade and in college. Basically just chill, play video games, talk to the guys I’ve played with in high school. I haven’t really done much else.
FOX SPORTS: Individually, you’ve been to see a few teams already. So let’s start with Sacramento. Obviously the Kings have the fifth pick, they need a point guard. What was your experience out there?
DE’AARON: I caught a good vibe. Willie [Cauley-Stein] went to Kentucky. Skal [Labissiere] went to Kentucky, but I actually knew him from before that. Malachi Richardson I know. I was a fan of Buddy [Hield] when he was at Oklahoma. So I really got a good vibe out there, and I feel I compliment the guys they have really well.
FOX SPORTS: Yeah it seems like you’d be that missing piece.
DE’AARON: I know they really want a point guard, I know they need one. They have the young pieces, and in a few years I do think we could be competing for championships.
FOX SPORTS: What about the vibe around the team? For years you heard stories that top prospects didn’t want to work out for them. Now it seems like everyone is on board with Sacramento. Is that what it felt like to you when you were out there?
DE’AARON: I’ve heard about people not wanting to go there, but if I’m able to change a culture, that’s what I want to do.
There’s nowhere that I want to go [more than any other place]. But there’s nowhere that I don’t want to go, either. I’m fine wherever I land as long as I can show what I can do, just play, help change a team.
FOX SPORTS: What about Phoenix (which picks fourth)? I know you haven’t worked out there, but they have some pretty good pieces there. A lot of them from Kentucky, too.
DE’AARON: Yeah, I didn’t work out for Phoenix. If I get drafted there I’ll be fine as long as I can get on the court and play, show what I can do. I know Devin [Booker], I know Tyler [Ulis]. I was a big Eric [Bledsoe] fan when I was younger. Brandon [Knight] when he came out of high school, I was actually a big Brandon Knight fan.
FOX SPORTS: What about you and Devin specifically? I feel like you guys combined would be pretty dynamic.
DE’AARON: Definitely. A bunch of fans have tweeted at me, ‘You can be the next John [Wall] and Bradley [Beal]. So it’d be interesting to see what happens.
FOX SPORTS: What about the Lakers? You were just there [last week]. What was your experience?
DE’AARON: The workout was pretty good. They try to really wear you out. You’re the only person on the court. You don’t get too many breaks. But I feel like the workout went well, I shot it well. Showed them I could put passes on the money, work well out of the pick-and-roll. Nothing is going to be the same as a live game. They try to simulate as much as you want, but it won’t be the same.
I enjoyed it a lot, got to talk to the Buss family, all the owners. Magic [Johnson] liked it. I enjoyed being around there.
FOX SPORTS: What were your impressions of Magic?
DE’AARON: Just the way he spoke, how highly he talked of the Buss family, how well they run the organization. How well they treat their players, how even their former players are always around and come back. You really feel that it’s more than just a team there.
FOX SPORTS: I know you don’t have a preference on what team you go to, but I’m guessing you wouldn’t mind living in LA a few more years?
DE’AARON: I wouldn’t mind it. I just hate the traffic. People in Houston complain about traffic. I’m like, “Ya’ll haven’t seen traffic until you come to LA.”
FOX SPORTS: You just have to get that Kobe helicopter, right?
DE’AARON: I’m not there yet [laughing]. But yeah, I enjoy it [here in LA]. But I also enjoyed Sacramento. Sacramento is closer to how Lexington is. LA is closer to how Houston is.
FOX SPORTS: Throughout this draft process there’s been so much talk about the three point guards at the top, you, Markelle, Lonzo. If you had to give a scouting report on De’Aaron Fox, tell us why he should be the first guard off the board.
DE’AARON: He’s just always in attack mode. That’s something you want out of a point guard. Can score the ball, can get his teammates involved, can defend. I feel like he does everything on the court. Especially in this league, a lot of the time the point guard is the most talented player on the team. You want someone who is extremely talented at that position. I’m not saying that the other two guys aren’t, but he’s going to be the best out of the crop.
FOX SPORTS: Do you think your performance against Lonzo in the NCAA tournament should factor into draft position?
DE’AARON: I mean, it could. But you also have to look at the whole season. I had a good season the whole season, too. But people want to look at that game more.
FOX SPORTS: Do you think NBA teams care about that one game? Or are they looking more at the full body of work — what you’ve done since high school and this season at Kentucky?
DE’AARON: They’re looking at the full body of work. But you’ve also got to look at how a guy does when he’s going up against another elite prospect.
FOX SPORTS: Alright, final question. And this is the most important one: If an All-Star team from Kentucky were playing the Warriors, who do you think would win?
DE’AARON: You can read Fox’s answer by clicking here.