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Former Kentucky Wildcats among ESPN’s top rising stars

Kentucky continues its takeover of the NBA.

New Orleans Pelicans v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

There’s even more evidence that Kentucky is leaving its mark in the NBA, as ESPN’s top 50 under 25 rankings featured eight Wildcats in the top 35. That’s twice as many as any other school, and Kentucky was one of just three schools to have multiple players in the top 35.

Unsurprisingly, Anthony Davis was No. 1 on the list.

Davis is on pace to join David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players in NBA history to average 20 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and one steal per game in four of their first five seasons, and he has a chance to become the first player to average 28 PPG and 12 RPG since Shaquille O'Neal in 2000-01.

Following him was Karl-Anthony Towns at No. 3.

Towns is on the verge of becoming the second player age 21 or younger to average 23 points and 11 rebounds per game, joining Shaquille O'Neal. Towns has the fourth-best offensive Real Plus-Minus of any post player in the NBA, behind DeMarcus Cousins, Nikola Jokic and Kevin Love.

Scoring machine Devin Booker fell 10 spots behind Towns at No. 13, and ESPN noted that Booker is on track to have the third-highest scoring average by a player 20 or younger in league history.

Enes Kanter ranked 22nd, and it’s noted that he’s arguably the most efficient bench player in the league.

Since the start of last season, among those to play in at least 100 games, Kanter ranks 10th in the NBA in player efficiency rating. He has come off the bench in 128 of those 129 games -- every other player in the top 10 has started every game.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle ranked right behind Kanter at No. 23.

Randle is one of seven players with multiple triple-doubles this season. Of that group, only Randle and Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo are under the age of 25.

If it weren’t for Russell Westbrook and James Harden recording so many triple-doubles this season, Randle would probably get more attention for recording multiple triple-doubles.

Falling just inside the top 30 is Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, ranking 30th. His defensive game is what gets him on this list, as ESPN notes that he contests more three-pointers than anyone else in the league.

Nerlens Noel is another player that made the list due to defense, as he ranked 31st due to the fact that he’s the only player averaging multiple steals and multiple blocks per 36 minutes over the past three seasons.

Rounding out the list is Jamal Murray, who ranked 35th, due to the fact that he has five 20-point games, the most among rookies this year.