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Kevin Knox NBA Draft decision: Making the case for return to Kentucky Basketball

Kevin Knox is a projected first-round pick, but there’s a lot of upside to returning for another year at UK.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional Practice Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The University of Kentucky is widely considered to be the standard for “One-and-Done” basketball players.

While that’s usually true, this spring may be a bit different. With the Wildcats’ Sweet Sixteen exit from the NCAA Tournament, their star players didn’t get extended time to showcase their talent. In a loaded draft from picks 1-8, Kevin Knox is projected to go 15th in SB Nation’s most recent mock draft, the same spot ESPN has him going.

If the star freshman returns for another season, he would have another chance at an NCAA Championship with a more mature supporting cast. He’d also likely see his draft stock skyrocket in what is projected to be a very weak 2019 draft class.

Knox’s talent alone would have him as a lottery pick in 2019. Add in another summer spent working on his craft, and he could even elevate into a top-5 pick. Having a deeper, better shooting supporting cast has to be attractive as well.

To most, being selected at any pick in the lottery would a dream come true. But for Knox, the difference in being selected 15th this summer and 5th next summer is more than $2 million per year in what would be his rookie deal.

The negative side to this is an example of someone Knox shared the court with every game this season. Hamidou Diallo was widely believed to be a late first round pick, by the Brooklyn Nets, in last year’s draft. However, Diallo pulled his name out of the draft and elected to return to school.

Diallo was projected as a lottery selection in the CBS Preseason NBA Mock Draft, but after a disappointing season, he isn’t even being mentioned in the first round of the latest mock drafts. If he were to go, it would be strictly off his athleticism and hope that he could potentially groom his game into a Tony Allen-like defender.

Knox wouldn’t likely face this dilemma, though, simply because of his elite talent on offense along with his rare size/skill set. RJ Barrett is believed to be the only NBA-ready player as of now. While that could certainly change in a year, these scouts are considered the best for a reason.

Speaking of, the talent projected to be part of the 2019 draft is severely lacking at this time. At, their 2019 mock has Naz Reid, Kris Wilkes, Romeo Langford and Kellan Grady projected as top-10 picks.

I think it’s safe to think Knox would be drafted before most, if not all of that group. With that kind of talent or lack thereof, it’s possible Knox could do exactly what he did this past season and still end up going higher in next year’s draft. That’s how big of a dropoff there’s projected to be from the 2018 and ‘19 drafts.

With Knox’s roommate PJ Washington projected in the late second round, it’s likely Washington will be returning for a sophomore season with the Wildcats. Washington is sure to have some sort of influence on Knox, as well the incoming recruiting class and possible returns of Hamidou Diallo, Jarred Vanderbilt, Nick Richards, Quade Green, Sacha Killeya-Jones and Wenyen Gabriel. However, so will millions of guaranteed money if he went to the NBA in just less than three months.

It will be a life changing decision for Knox, so it’s likely he’ll take some time to decide. But when he does, check back with for the latest news.