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De’Aaron Fox is excited about Kings teammates and fans

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Fox is ready to help turn the franchise around. 

NBA: Draft Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

De’Aaron Fox had his phone on airplane mode most of Thursday night during the NBA Draft. After the Sacramento Kings selected him with the fifth overall pick, he slid airplane mode off to check out what was happening. The first contact that popped up on his screen was Kings forward and fellow Kentucky alumnus Skal Labissière.

“He was like ‘let’s go boy,’” Fox recalled.

Just 30 seconds later, later Fox had to switch his phone back into airplane mode because he had more interviews to do. One of those interviews was with the Sacramento media via a conference call line. On the call, Fox described how great it feels to be a King, that he liked the vibe with the team when he visited before the draft and is excited to play with the front court of Labissière and Willie Cauley-Stein, who can run the floor. “Having bigs that can run with your guards is extremely helpful,” he said. And it turns out Labissière isn’t the only current King he knows and is looking forward to playing alongside. Two of the other players the Kings selected in Thursday’s Draft, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles, are close friends of his. (He also knows Malachi Richardson.)

“I’ve known him [Jackson] since I was younger. We actually played together. We played AAU together and I mean, that’s really just a big brother to me and him going through the process, not just the NBA Draft process, but now we’re going to the same team,” Fox said. “I feel like the transition to Sacramento is going to be a lot smoother when it’s with someone you really enjoy having around you.”

Jackson was in his last year and Fox was a freshman on their AAU squad, and they have kept in touch ever since.

“It will be fun. Having a face that I’ve seen a lot of. To kind of go into this journey together, it will be a lot of fun,” Jackson said. Jackson also knows current Kings Buddy Hield, Richardson and Labissière.

With the Kings in the midst of a serious youth movement, it should be a good thing that many of the players already have good relationships and are excited to be teammates. Speaking of good relationships, there appears to be a great one already between Fox and Kings fans. The fans had been expressing their love for the Kentucky guard on social media for a while leading up to the draft, and it didn’t go unnoticed.

“I’m pretty sure out of any team, Kings fans really showed me the most love,” Fox said. “It’s really like Lexington, how Kentucky is. ... They take pride in their basketball and I just want to be able to help the city turn the franchise around.”

On Thursday night, Fox got another reminder of what the fans are like in Sacramento.

Fox, who averaged 16.7 points, 4.6 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals last season at Kentucky, planned to arrive in Sacramento on Friday ready to start his career with the Kings. That step will include a leadership role that Kings general manager Vlade Divac requested of him. Outside of that, he’s also willing to take on the challenge of turning the franchise around.

As for that jump shot, Fox isn’t concerned.

“I’m not really worried about it, I know I’m going to have to get better and I know it can get better. I never really shot bad until this season at Kentucky,” Fox said. “At the end of the year, I felt like I was playing my best and I was shooting the three ball well.”

Divac isn’t worried either, apparently.

“If we had the No. 1 pick, he would be our guy,” Divac said after the draft concluded.