Kentucky’s 2016-17 season came to an end in heartbreaking fashion on Sunday, as the Wildcats lost in the Elite 8 to North Carolina, 75-73. It was a bitter end for a Kentucky team that had serious national title aspirations and came into the season ranked No. 2 in the nation.
Like many seasons during the John Calipari era in Lexington, the end of the year means that a number of first-year players are heading to the NBA. Most notably, the Wildcats are about to lose star point guard De’Aaron Fox, who seems like he is almost certainly going to be a top-5 pick in the upcoming draft.
But Fox very obviously didn’t view this year as a stepping stone to the NBA. After the Wildcats lost, the Louisiana native broke down in tears while discussing how much this season meant to him and his fellow teammates.
Fox wasn’t the only Kentucky player who was emotional after the loss. Bam Adebayo, who is currently projected to be a late-first round draft pick by Draft Express, was also in tears at Fox’s answer. Additionally, he spoke on how tightly-knit this team had become over the course of the year.
March Madness is about the big wins and the quest for a championship, but lost in that is that a number of players on 67 teams will end their collegiate careers with a loss. This is a painful reminder that, while the NCAA Tournament is great, only one team can go out on top.