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John Calipari on Rob Dillingham: 'He's got the ability to score baskets like Allen Iverson'

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Rob Dillingham(Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports)

John Calipari isn’t tempering NBA expectations for his former Kentucky product. During an appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show,” Calipari compared Rob Dillingham to an NBA legend.

“I was on the phone with three different clubs today about Robert,” Calipari said. “[They said to me], ‘We know he can score, how can he defend?’ Here’s what I would say: I know he’ll fight because he and I almost got in a couple of fights, so I know he will fight. And if you’re willing to fight — yeah, you’ve got to gain 15-20 more pounds so you can hold your own, but he’ll slap and punch and bite.

“He’s a competitor, and he’s got the ability to score baskets like Allen Iverson.”

Evidently, the Minnesota Timberwolves are confident in Dillingham’s potential, as well. The franchise selected Dilingham with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2024 NBA Draft after making a trade with the San Antonio Spurs.

If Dillingham can find half the success Iverson found in the NBA, Minnesota fans are in for years of entertainment. Dillingham will join an already high-powered offense, led by Anthony Edwards and fellow former Wildcat Karl-Anthony Towns.

Dillingham has certainly shown flashes of greatness. In his lone season at Kentucky, the 6-foot-2 guard averaged 15.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game while shooting 47.5% from the field and 44.3% from beyond the arc

For his efforts, he was named the 2024 SEC Sixth Man of the Year and an All-SEC Second Team member. Dillingham hopes to carry his momentum over to the next level.

“It was just a crazy experience for real,” Dillingham said of the NBA Draft. “The Timberwolves are one of the best teams in the NBA, so I wouldn’t think I’d go to a contender right off rip. So, me seeing that I’m going to the Timberwolves, it was just a blessing for real. 

“I was just happy that I get to learn from so many vets that’s on the team and so many players that’s done it,” he added. “Talking to Coach, he just made me feel comfortable, and he told me that I’m gonna have a role as long as I have responsibility and do what I’m supposed to do. I feel like it’s a two-way street, and as long as I keep it the right way, then it’s gonna go good.”

Rob Dillingham is expected to make his NBA Summer League debut on July 12 when the Timberwolves square off against the New Orleans Pelicans at 5 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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