Erik Spoelstra talks Heat’s affinity for University of Kentucky players

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was a recent guest on Sirius/XM NBA Radio. In that appearance, Spoelstra detailed why the Heat have become enamored with draft prospects from the University of Kentucky. Spoelstra said Miami is particularly impressed with Wildcats coach John Calipari.

“We love what Cal does,” Spoelstra said. “I’ve been up there a few times, just to see how he does his program. We like talking shop and everything. But he’s going to coach you hard. They’re going to spend a lot of time with player development. They’re not going to treat you with kid gloves because of whatever you were ranked in high school.”

In the last two NBA Drafts, the Heat have drafted Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro out of Kentucky in the first round. Adebayo has become Miami’s starting center in his third season and was a first-time All-Star in 2020. Adebayo is one of the NBA’s most-versatile centers with averages of 16.2 points, 10.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.2 steals.

Herro has been a rotation player for the Heat in his rookie season. He’s averaged 12.9 points per game on 39.1% shooting from behind the arc.

Spoelstra said what attracted Miami to Adebayo was his willingness to play a role while with the Wildcats.

“I loved the fact that he played a role at Kentucky,” Spoelstra said. “I mentioned that when I first met with him. He said he was capable of more, but he loved being in that program, loved being developed by that coaching staff. He had no problem playing that role. I liked that he was just willing to play defense, rebound, set screens and do that kind of thing and be okay with that.”