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Several Wildcats among ESPN’s NBA prospect rankings

Kentucky and Duke were featured heavily, adding to the hype for next Tuesday’s monster clash.

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

The Kentucky Wildcats are ready to begin their 2018-19 season, and as always, they’ll have a wealth of NBA talent.

The preseason second-ranked Wildcats should once again have multiple first-round picks in the next NBA Draft, and it’s not a stretch to think anywhere from 4-6 players hear their names called in next June’s draft.

But for much of the offseason, the NBA mock drafts and projections have varied on which Wildcats could be drafted and how high they may go. However, one name consistently mentioned has been Keldon Johnson, who is widely expected to be a one and done in addition to being a potential lottery pick.

At ESPN, Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz just revealed their positional and class rankings for the 2019 draft. There, Johnson came in as the fourth-best small forward and seventh-best freshman.

Back in August, ESPN’s mock draft had Johnson going eighth overall to the Memphis Grizzlies, so that’s about in line with these positional rankings.

Elsewhere, Tyler Herro came in as the sixth-best shooting guard. He’s got some work to do in order to impress NBA teams enough to be a one and done, but after what we saw in the Bahamas, he should be well on his way to accomplishing this.

PJ Washington came in as the sixth-best power forward and fifth-best sophomore. Rarely do we ever see players with NBA potential remain at Kentucky more than two years, and with Washington on the edge of being a first-round prospect, expect him to be in in next year’s draft.

The only other Wildcat mentioned here is Nick Richards, who came in as the 10th-best center. Reid Travis was not among the top 10 seniors, while neither Immanuel Quickley or Ashton Hagans were among the top 10 point guards. Also, EJ Montgomery was not among the top 10 power forwards.

I would expect at least a few of those guys to move up the rankings and be in position to leave for the NBA next year. Thankfully, we’ve still got a full season to enjoy all of them at Kentucky.

As for Kentucky’s first opponent, the Duke Blue Devils were also a big name in these rankings. Zion Williamson is the top-ranked power forward, while R.J. Barrett is the top shooting guard, and Cam Reddish is the second-ranked small forward. Tre Jones is the ninth-ranked point guard, though I think there’s a real possibility both Quickley and Hagans end up being better NBA prospects when it’s all said and done.

As if we needed any more hype for Tuesday’s clash.