The college basketball season is winding down, and so too are the careers of some Kentucky Wildcats.
Between Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo and Jarred Vanderbilt, we should expect UK to lose at least two players to the NBA Draft. Every year under John Calipari, UK has lost at least two players as early-entrants into the draft, so don’t expect this year to be any different.
ESPN just updated their ranking of the top 100 prospects in the 2018 draft. The highest Wildcat to make this list is Kevin Knox. The freshman forward checked in at No. 12, putting him in position to be selected in the lottery (first 14 picks).
Knox has enjoyed a solid freshman season, but he’ll need to have a strong finish to climb any higher in June’s draft. Still, it’s hard to see him falling out of the lottery. He’s just too talented to fall in a draft that really begins to drop off after the top 10.
After Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander checks in at No. 18 overall, putting him right outside the lottery range. I expect Shai to go pro if that projection holds up in what’s become a very thin draft.
Next up is Hamidou Diallo at No. 28 overall. Again, in a very thin draft, even a guy like Diallo should hear his name called in the latter part of Round 1. He’s had his moments this season, but he’s still very raw and needs more consistency to ensure he’s a first-round pick.
No other Wildcat is projected in the top 50 of this ranking. That includes Jarred Vanderbilt, whose stock is rising after his recent hot streak. Vanderbilt checks in at No. 53 in this ranking, followed by Nick Richards (54) and PJ Washington (55).
I still think there’s a very real chance Vanderbilt leaves, assuming his stock continues to rise, but Richards and Washington should be back next season.
Here is a look at ESPN’s top 14 prospects, which is loaded with SEC flavor:
1. Luka Doncic
2. Deandre Ayton
3. Mohamed Bamba
4. Marvin Bagley III
5. Jaren Jackson Jr.
6. Michael Porter Jr.
7. Trae Young
8. Wendell Carter Jr.
9. Collin Sexton
10. Miles Bridges
11. Mikal Bridges
12. Kevin Knox
13. Robert Williams
14. Daniel Gafford