CHICAGO – When it comes to launching his professional career, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has the talent and an agent. Now, he has a cheerleader, too, as players began interviewing and working out for NBA teams at the pre-draft Combine.
“They would be getting a hard worker, the first person in the gym every day and the last to leave,” Kentucky teammate Marquis Teague said. “He’s a great defender and a great scorer at the rim. He’s very athletic and long. He will give his all every game.
“There would be times last year,” Teague continued, “when we would be breaking down and Michael would just take the game over. He put us on his back and carried us.”
Leadership and a winner’s mentality are two of the many intangibles that Kidd-Gilchrist brings to the table as one of the more unique players eligible for the June 28 draft.
“With any team, I’ll be a perfect fit,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “I love playing defense so it wouldn’t matter what team.”
Kidd-Gilchrist appears to be a lock as one of the first five players selected in the 2012 draft. Teammate Anthony Davis is a lock at No. 1, but MKG’s name has surfaced often with No. 2 Charlotte, No. 3 Washington and No. 4 Cleveland.
On the first day of the Combine, he interviewed with Charlotte, Portland, Washington and Boston.
Charlotte had the NBA’s worst record at 7-59. “I’ll make it work if I go there,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “I’ll make it happen.”
He would be paired with former UConn star Kemba Walker, who helped eliminate Kentucky from the Final Four in 2011. “He’s a monster,” he said. “I’d love to play with him.”
Washington has former UK standout John Wall running the point. “It would be fun for him, for me and for Kentucky fans,” Kidd-Gilchrist said.
Cleveland, by most counts, is the odd’s on favorite to get Kidd-Gilchrist and would unite him with former Duke guard Kyrie Irving. “He’s one of my best friends. He’s a great guy. He’s a leader. I would love to play with Kyrie.
“But if it’s 1, 2, 10, 11, 30. It doesn’t matter,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “I just want to be picked.”
The one positive drawing the most praise for MKG is that relentless motor Kentucky fans saw every game last season.
“I don’t like losing,” he explained. “But I think it’s just me. I’m a leader. That’s what it takes to be a leader.”
At Kentucky, it was Kidd-Gilchrist who organized those brutally early breakfast club workouts following the Cats’ last-second loss at Indiana in early December.
“It hurt so much, I didn’t want to lose again,” he said. “I went to coach Cal first and had a long talk with him and said, ‘Let me do this.’ It worked obviously with a national championship.”
The one nagging negative is a perception that Kidd-Gilchrist is not a shooter.
“It’s there,” he said. “I’m working hard on it each and every day but it’s definitely there. You just haven’t seen my little stroke. I like to shoot the basketball.
“I’ve heard the talk,” Kidd-Gilchrist continued. “I have something to prove. I think I have something to prove to everybody next year so that’s what I’m going to do.”