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Mo Bamba, Jarred Vanderbilt projected as top 10 NBA Draft picks

Kentucky may already have a top-10 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft before Bamba makes his decision.

USA Today

Jarred Vanderbilt is having himself an offseason.

The five-star forward out of Texas has been shining on the high school all-star circuit. It began with a great showing in the McDonald’s All-American practices, though it didn’t translate into the game as Vanderbilt was quiet in the box score.

That wasn’t the case this past week at the Nike Hoops Summit. After balling out in the practice sessions, Vanderbilt had a big performance in the game, notching 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting to go with three assists, 10 rebounds and a pair of blocks and steals in just over 19 minutes of action.

After the game, ESPN’s Chad Ford spoke with several NBA scouts, and he later posted a ranking of the top 10 NBA prospects in the 2018 draft. Just making the cut was Vanderbilt, he Ford has slotted as the 10th-best prospect for next year’s draft:

10. Jarred Vanderbilt, Forward, Kentucky

Age: 18

Hoop Summit: 19 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks on 8-for-12 shooting

McDonald's: 2 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists on 1-for-2 shooting

Vanderbilt was the other surprise performer at the Hoop Summit. He was aggressive looking to score and to pass.

He's a unique forward who can initiate the offense, score at the rim, rebound, block shots and provide a lot of energy. His jumper needs work, but if he gets that going, he could become a big-time draft prospect.

Vanderbilt is already committed to the Kentucky Wildcats, who also hope to land Mohamed Bamba and finish off their 2017 class in style.

If Bamba were to pick Kentucky, he’d undoubtedly be the Cats’ best NBA prospect next year. Ford has him ranked fourth overall:

4. Mohamed Bamba, Center, Uncommitted

Age: 18

Hoop Summit: 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 4 blocks, 2-for-5 shooting

McDonald's: 17 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 4 blocks, 7-for-10 shooting

Bamba is the last of the players on this list that looks like a potential star in the NBA.

He was recorded with a 7-foot-9 inch wingspan at the Hoop Summit -- a half-inch longer than Rudy Gobert's. His size, length and fluid athleticism are what really intrigue scouts. He's an elite shot blocker and rebounder. When he gets stronger, he should have a major impact in the paint similar to Gobert's.

Offensively he's still a work in progress, though he has soft hands and is starting to show some improvement both on the block and facing the basket. As he adds strength and skill, he has the potential to be a dominant center in the NBA someday. He's rawer than the other three prospects ahead of him, but his ceiling is just as high. If he has a big year, he'll be in the mix for the No. 1 pick as well.

For a college choice, he seems to be down to Kentucky, Duke and Michigan, with scouts tending to view Kentucky as his most likely pick. That would be great news for John Calipari, who already has a strong incoming class but lacks a player with true star potential.

Kentucky really needs Bamba to be a true Final Four contender next season, but don’t let that overshadow what they already have in Vanderbilt, who’s been one of the less-discussed players in their 2017 class.

We’re seeing why that needs to change quickly as Vanderbilt is having as good of a showing at these all-star games/practices as anyone in this class.