Second-round draft picks in the NBA are often used on players who have a lot of room to improve or foreign players who still have several years left playing overseas before entering the NBA. It's not often that a player who was named the NCAA Tournament's Most Outstanding Player and led his team to a national championship is among that group of selections.
Kyle Guy -- whom the Kings selected No. 55 overall in June -- is a rare exception in more ways than one. In a recent feature article, Guy opened up about the adversities he faced on his path to being an NBA draft pick, as well as the realities of being a second-round draft pick with no guaranteed money in his contract.
"I'm as broke as I was before," Guy told Paolo Uggeti of The Ringer. "People think you get drafted, and they're like, ‘Oh, you're rich. You're a millionaire.' I don't have money."
The Indianapolis native discussed his battles with anxiety during his college career, which was only made worse when he was on the wrong end of the largest upset in NCAA Tournament history. His Virginia team, the top overall seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, was defeated in the first round by the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. It was the first time in history a No. 16 seed had defeated a No. 1 seed, and it took Guy some time before he was comfortable talking about it.
"You just feel like you just want to shut down," Guy says. "Even if you're in the most comfortable position, or situation, or environment, if it happens, I have to remove myself from the environment."
Guy's propensity to please others exacerbated the situation. Basketball used to be his escape; soon, it became a trap. Alexa Jenkins, now his fiancée, recognized what was happening and encouraged Guy to write down his thoughts and see a specialist. Guy begrudgingly did. He was prescribed Lexapro, and found typing his thoughts into his laptop cathartic. Then, top-seeded Virginia lost to 16-seed UMBC in the first round of the 2018 NCAA tournament-the first time such an upset had ever happened. "Boom," Guy says while making an exploding motion with his hands. "It got worse."
His mentor and trainer, Derek Grant, noticed a change in Guy as well.
Grant remembers watching the game and seeing Guy bawl afterward. This wasn't the Guy he knew. So once the school year ended, Grant drove eight hours from Indianapolis to Charlottesville to bring Guy home. Three hours into the drive back, Guy told him he thought he didn't want to play basketball anymore. Grant knew he didn't mean it, but could tell something needed to be done or the situation could spiral. Grant developed a plan: He would text Guy a simple question like, "How was your day?" and Guy would have 24 hours to provide a real, honest answer. The texts and conversations got longer as Guy became more comfortable with opening up. By November, Grant remembers telling those around him that the old Kyle Guy was back and ready to go.
The rest is literally history. Virginia lost only three games last season, Guy hit the biggest shot of his life (for now) and was named the best player of the Final Four, and the Cavaliers won the title to complete the redemption story. The sequence of events bounced Guy, a junior, into the draft conversation. His original plan was to go through the draft process, and then go back to school to finish his degree. But the exposure the title brought was enough to tilt the scales the other way.
Guy inked a two-way contract with Sacramento, which last season yielded between $77,000 to a maximum of $506,000 in salary. However, with there being no signing bonus in the NBA, Guy will not be getting a paycheck from the Kings until November when the regular season gets underway.
So what does a man who declared for the NBA Draft a year prior to his graduation from Virginia do to make money until then? Guy found some unconventional ways to make a living. From Uggetti:
First, Guy signed up for Cameo-the service that allows actors, athletes, and YouTubers to send personalized video messages to fans for a price-as soon as he committed to the draft. He promoted it to Virginia fans first, and he's now looped in Kings fans too. He originally charged $50 per video but now charges $60. As of July 22, he had done 91 videos, which amounts to around $5,000.
Guy also signed trading cards for Panini, did a sponsored interview for a culture website, and agreed to be featured on a bottle of "Real Time Pain Relief," a product similar to Icy Hot. He partnered with Home Stadiums, which makes wallpapers featuring images of stadiums for fans, and VIPVR, another company that allows fans to have real-time video meet-and-greets with him.
This was a big summer for Guy, who went straight from being drafted to competing in both the Sacramento and Las Vegas versions of NBA Summer League, where he averaged just under 17 points a game on 38 percent shooting.
As if that wasn't a big enough life event for a person just out of college, Guy tied the knot with his long-time girlfriend, Alexa Jenkins, on July 25 in Hawaii on the island of Kauai.
Guy was quick to reveal what he plans to do first with his money from the Kings, before realizing just how many expenses he was putting on his plate.
"I'm going to buy some AirPods so I can fit in, then I'm going to pay for Alexa's law school, and then I'm going to buy flights for her to come see me," he says. Jenkins will be attending law school at Notre Dame in the fall. "Obviously, I'll have the rent, or mortgage, car payments." He pauses as if he's only now realizing what he's saying out loud. "I'm a freaking grown-up right now. It's crazy."
The Kings are set in the starting backcourt heading into the 2019-20 season, with De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield both returning after high-volume scoring seasons. The team also signed veteran point guard Cory Joseph this offseason, who averaged 6.5 points and 3.9 assists per game with the Indiana Pacers last season.
Based on his two-way status, Guy will only be allowed to be on Sacramento's roster for 45 days during the 2019-20 season. Therefore, his opportunity to impress will be limited in the NBA, but he will get every chance to be a major contributor in the G League with the Stockton Kings during his rookie season.