Keldon Johnson added to United States Olympic Team

UK has three players represented on the 12-player roster

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (UK Athletics) – Keldon Johnson has been added to the Unites States men’s basketball 2020 Olympics Team roster becoming the third former Kentucky men’s basketball player to represent the Red, White and Blue this summer in Japan.

Johnson, who was chosen as a member of the Select Team, was elevated to the 12-man roster on Friday. He and JaVale McGee were chosen to replace original selections Bradley Beal and Kevin Love. Johnson joins Wildcats Bam Adebayo and Devin Booker on the squad competing July 25-Aug. 8 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

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The former UK stars will make their debuts for the 15-time Olympic gold medalist U.S. National Team, which is seeking its fourth straight gold medal at the Games of the XXXII Olympiad. A Wildcat has been a part of the previous three U.S. gold medals with Tayshaun Prince in 2008, Anthony Davis in 2012 and DeMarcus Cousins in 2016.

With Johnson’s addition, the Wildcats now have three representatives, the most of any college. UCLA has two players in Jrue Holiday and Zach Lavine. No other college has more than one representative on the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team.

Team USA is led by Johnson’s NBA head coach in Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs) with assistant coaches Steve Kerr (Golden State Warriors), Lloyd Pierce and Jay Wright (Villanova).

Johnson was one of three U.S. Select Team players chosen to play for the Americans during the USA Men’s National Team Tour in Las Vegas as Booker, Holiday and Khris Middleton complete the NBA Finals. Johnson saw action in the team’s game vs. Australia. He scored seven points on 3-of-5 shooting from the floor in 13 minutes of action.

Adebayo is averaging 8.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game in his two appearances.

After biding his time in San Antonio in his rookie season, Johnson has emerged as one of the faces of the proud San Antonio franchise. He averaged 12.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game and became the first Spur with at least 20 points and at least 20 rebounds in the same game since Tim Duncan in 2013. The 2019 Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year also made the All-SEC Second Team at Kentucky and played a key part of the 2019 Elite Eight team. The Spurs selected Johnson with the 29th overall pick in the 2019 draft.

Twelve teams will compete for the gold in Japan. The 12 teams will be divided into three groups (A, B and C) of four teams each. The group stage of the competition is played in a round-robin format, with each team playing all other teams in its group (a total of three games for each team). The teams placed first and second in each group and the two best third-place teams in the group phase qualify for the final phase.

A draw will take place following the conclusion of the group phase to determine the pairings of the quarterfinals. The winners of the groups and the second-place team with the best result from the group phase are placed in one pot (D), while the two remaining second-place teams and two best third-place teams in another pot (E). Teams from the same group in the Group Phase cannot be drawn against each other in the quarterfinals. This stage of the competition is played in a knockout format and the draw will produce an Olympic bracket for the road to the gold medal.

To be crowned Olympic champion, a team has to play six games – three in the group phase and three in the final phase (quarterfinals, semifinals, gold medal game) instead of eight as in past Olympics.

U.S. Olympic men’s basketball teams have medaled in each of the 18 Olympics they have participated in, winning 15 gold medals, one silver and two bronze medals. Team USA owns a 138-5 overall win-loss record. Since NBA players began representing the U.S. in 1992, Team USA is 53-3 in seven Olympics with six gold medals. The Americans are currently on a 25-game Olympic winning streak.

Eleven Wildcats have won Olympic gold medals, but two UK players have not won gold on the same Olympic team since the Fabulous Five of Cliff Barker, Ralph Beard, Alex Groza, Wallace Jones and Kenny Rollins in 1948.

When the 2020-21 season began, a staggering 31 Wildcats were on NBA opening-day rosters (including two-way and inactive lists). Underscoring the fact that no other school in the country can match UK’s ability to develop players and put them in the NBA, UK’s 31 players were once again the most of any college basketball program, beating the next-closest school (Duke with 26) by five players.

Kentucky has enjoyed unprecedented success at putting players in the NBA under John Calipari. In the 11 previous seasons of the Calipari era, 41 players have been selected in the NBA Draft, more than any other school. Included in the recent run are 31 first-round picks, three No. 1 overall selections (Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns and John Wall) and 21 lottery selections.

Calipari’s players have entered the league NBA-ready. His players have garnered 23 All-Star selections, with Davis winning the game’s MVP honor in 2017. Derrick Rose was named NBA MVP in 2011. Six of his players have been tabbed All-NBA, three have been named NBA Rookie of the Year, and 15 players from Calipari’s first 11 teams at Kentucky have made the NBA All-Rookie teams.

Using figures compiled by basketball-reference.com and spotrac.com, Calipari-coached players only (which includes Rose but not Rajon Rondo) have amassed nearly $3 billion ($2.96) in career NBA contracts. In the 12 seasons Calipari has been the head coach at Kentucky, his players have totaled nearly $2.6 billion in NBA contracts. In just the 2020-21 season alone, former UK players are slated to make more than $295 million. Calipari-coached players only (which includes Rose but not Rajon Rondo) will make just about the same thing.

Calipari and Kentucky have had multiple players selected in the first round of the NBA Draft in 11 straight seasons, the only program since the draft went to two rounds in 1989 to accomplish such a feat. No other school or coach in the country has had a first-round pick in each of the last 11 seasons. Calipari is the only coach in the history of the sport to have four players drafted No. 1 overall (Rose – 2008, Wall – 2010, Davis – 2012, Towns – 2015).

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Bryan Kennedy hails from the Bluegrass State. He was born and raised in Owensboro, KY where he graduated from Apollo High School in 2006. Bryan graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Spanish in 2010. He also received his master's degree in Sports Media and Branding from Western Kentucky University. While at UK, Bryan was the general manager of the on-campus TV station. He also did sports reporting, anchoring, producing and even the weather for UK Student News Network. While working for UKSNN, he also had the pleasure of covering Coach John Calipari's first press conference when he was introduced as the new head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats; easily one of his favorite moments as a young sports reporter. Before coming to ABC 36, Bryan was a morning anchor and reporter at WXXV News 25, our sister station in Gulfport, MS. He anchored more than four hours of news every day, including morning shows on NBC and Fox. While down south, Bryan had the opportunity to cover the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. After spending a little more than two years at WXXV, Bryan is extremely excited to return home. In his spare time, Bryan enjoys playing sports, especially rugby. He also enjoys crossfitting and watching sports (obviously). He's extremely excited to cover Central Kentucky. Feel free to say hello and send story ideas toBKennedy@wtvq.com