De’Aaron Fox says his lone NCAA Tournament appearance as a one-and-done Kentucky guard gave him a unique opportunity to do something many in the sports world would like to achieve.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Fox, one of the top players available in next week’s NBA draft, revealed his mindset that fueled a record-breaking performance in the Wildcats’ Sweet 16 victory over UCLA and fellow rising star Lonzo Ball: “Shut LaVar Ball up.”
As it turns out, Fox’s 39-point night — a March Madness record for a freshman — didn’t do much to quiet Lonzo’s outspoken and brash father, who began hoarding every possible inch of the spotlight during his eldest son’s sole season with the Bruins.
“In the last year, he became relevant for some reason,” Fox said, per SI. “When I knew Lonzo in high school, I’d never seen his dad before. He went crazy this year. I guess when your son a lottery pick, that gives you a lot of confidence.”
LaVar’s stockpile of absurd claims was far short of its peak on March 24, when Lonzo put up just 10 points in UCLA’s 86-75 loss to Kentucky. But there were already some doozies, like when LaVar declared earlier that month that in his heyday he would “kill Michael Jordan one-on-one,” and simultaneously put a $1 billion price tag on his family’s athletic-apparel company. And who could forget LaVar’s scouting report in February that put Lonzo ahead of two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry.
Of course Fox did everything he could on the court, but LaVar’s antics continued. The elder Ball drew his first round of controversy when he blamed UCLA’s loss on the team’s “three white guys” and their supposed slow foot speed.
Fox said that despite his overbearing father Lonzo will be fine in the NBA, but he still “put a target on his neck.” No matter where Lonzo ends up — be it the Lakers, the Ball clan’s top choice, or elsewhere — Fox said the pros will be gunning for Lonzo.
“Not just the great point guards, every point guard,” he said. “Like Patrick Beverley’s not going to do it offensively, but he’s gonna be like, ‘Yo this kid’s not about to get past halfcourt.’”