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NBA Mock Draft 2018: New ESPN projection for NCAA Tournament

The NBA Draft picture is starting to become more clear.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Maryland vs Xavier Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In ESPN’s latest NBA Mock Draft, the same three Kentucky Wildcats players from previous versions were listed, but their new positions may surprise you.

ESPN joins a list of several media outlets that officially rank Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ahead of Kevin Knox as a draft prospect. In their recent mock draft, they have Gilgeous-Alexander joining former Wildcats Jamal Murray and Trey Lyles with the Denver Nuggets at the 13th overall pick.

Gilgeous-Alexander has the size, length, defensive prowess and unselfishness needed to operate as a role player alongside a variety of different types of guards. His offense has made significant strides as the year has moved on, helping him surprisingly emerge as arguably Kentucky’s best top long-term prospect.

In another ESPN article discussing the players who have risen their stock the most as of late, the authors state that “no point guard prospect stood out more than Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander” during conference tournament week. They actually gave a lot of praise to the unheralded recruit from Canada.

At a wiry 6-foot-6 with a 7-foot wingspan and an excellent feel for the game, Gilgeous-Alexander could develop into the best NBA point guard of this year’s crop. In a draft class that includes both Collin Sexton and Trae Young, that is saying something.

ESPN believes Kevin Knox will be the next Wildcat drafted, and they believe he will fall just outside the lottery to join a host of Kentucky guys with the Phoenix Suns at No. 15.

Knox was inconsistent this season on that end of the floor, but as the second-youngest player in the draft, that’s not all that surprising. His ability to stretch the floor, make plays in the open court and theoretically guard either forward spot is attractive in today’s NBA.

The rising stock article believes that Knox may outplay his draft slot, and hints that he is playing out of position at Kentucky.

It will be interesting to see Knox in a different setting, however, as he clearly won’t be run off of pindowns and stagger screens like he is at Kentucky. Knox projects more as a flow small-ball 4 who can pick-and-pop to space, play off of closeouts and beat switches with jump hooks or faceup jumpers.

They also believe that Knox is more talented at his age than Miles Bridges, which is a big compliment to the Kentucky forward.

Rounding out the list of Kentucky players in the draft is Hamidou Diallo, who is predicted to be selected by the Los Angeles Lakes with the 43rd pick. After being projected as a top-20 selection in the preseason, it will be interesting to watch Diallo’s off-season process on making a decision about his future.

Of course a lot of these predictions hinge on selection order, team needs, and lottery results. But with these three guys slated to be picked, do you believe they will all enter the draft?

Do you see anybody else on the team throwing their name in the ring?