The 2018 NBA Draft hasn’t even taken place yet, but ESPN is already taking a look at the 2019 draft class.
You already know about some of the big-name prospects who will almost certainly be one and dones next season, including R.J. Barrett, Cameron Reddish, Bol Bol and Nassir Little.
What about the Kentucky Wildcats?
This early mock draft for 2019 has three Wildcats being selected within the first 33 picks, the highest of which being Keldon Johnson at No. 12 to the Pelicans. Johnson may not be the highest-ranked recruit coming in to UK, but he’s still a tremendous talent who could easily be a one and done that hears his name called early in next year’s draft.
The next Wildcat to go in this projection is PJ Washington at No. 18 to the Thunder. Washington is actually testing the draft waters right now, and there’s a real chance he stays in the draft. That probably wouldn’t be the best decision, especially if he can be a first-round pick in a weaker 2019 class vs being a fringe second-rounder in the 2018 draft.
The only other Wildcat in this projection is Jarred Vanderbilt, who goes No. 33 to the Hawks. Vanderbilt may need surgery to repair one of the many lower-leg injuries he’s had over the past year, so it’s really hard to see him being part of the 2018 draft. But if he returns to UK and can have a healthy sophomore season, he could easily sneak into the first round of a thinner 2019 draft class.
Among the Wildcats not included in this projection are E.J. Montgomery, Nick Richards, Immanuel Quickley and Tyler Herro. Ashton Hagans probably can be a one and done, but he’s still technically part of the 2019 recruiting class, thus keeping him ineligible for the draft until 2020.
Here’s a look at what the top 20 picks look like in this projection:
1. Hornets - R.J. Barrett
2. Celtics - (via SAC) Nassir Little
3. Hawks - Cam Reddish
4. Grizzlies - Sekou Doumbouya
5. Magic - Romeo Langford
6. Suns - Quentin Grimes
7. Knicks - Zion Williamson
8. Nets - Daniel Gafford
9. Mavericks - Darius Garland
10. Pistons - Bol Bol
11. Bulls - De’Andre Hunter
12. Pelicans - Keldon Johnson
13. Heat - Rui Hachimura
14. Hawks - (via CLE) Luka Samanic
15. Suns - (via MIL) Louis King
16. Celtics - (via LAC) Herb Jones
17. Wizards - Jalen Smith
18. Thunder - PJ Washington
19. Lakers - Carsen Edwards
20. Pacers - Kevin Huerter