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NBC thinks Kentucky Wildcats lose Jarred Vanderbilt to NBA Draft, has odd starting lineup projection

Could we see another all-freshman starting backcourt?

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Texas A&M C. Morgan Engel-USA TODAY Sports

We’re now three weeks away from the deadline for college players to withdraw from the 2018 NBA Draft.

Between now and then, the 2018-19 Kentucky Wildcats will come into focus, as there are several key players still waiting to make their final decision. That includes PJ Washington, Wenyen Gabriel and Jarred Vanderbilt testing the NBA waters, while 2019 recruit Tyrese Maxey could move into 2018 at some point.

For now, the latest preseason top 25 poll by NBC Sports has UK losing Vanderbilt to the NBA, while Gabriel and Washington opt for a return to UK.


Who’s gone: Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, Jarred Vanderbilt*, Sacha Killeya-Jones

Who do they add: Immanuel Quickley, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro, E.J. Montgomery, Ashton Hagans*

Projected starting lineup: Immanuel Quickly, Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, Wenyen Gabriel*, P.J. Washington*

As always, there are so many moving parts with this Kentucky team’s roster and who will end up leaving school. At this point, I’m going to set the over-under for the number of players that leave for the draft at four: Knox, Gilgeous-Alexander, Diallo and … either Gabriel or Vanderbilt? Maybe both? Sacha Killeya-Jones already transferred out as well. We’ll see how that all plays out, but regardless of what happens, I think the combination of incoming backcourt talent and the remaining front court veterans is going to be a fun combination for Kentucky fans to watch.

For now, there’s a very real chance that UK loses two of Washington, Gabriel and Vanderbilt to the draft, so keeping two of them should be considered a win, regardless of which two they are.

Losing Vanderbilt would be unfortunate, but it’s becoming clear that the NBA is interested in the freshman forward.

As for that projected starting lineup, it is interesting to say the least. Tyler Herro and Immanuel Quickley are both going to be impact players someday, but are they really good enough to start over a sophomore Quade Green and incoming five-star guard Ashton Hagans if he reclassifies?

After all the struggles UK went through last season, I don’t think John Calipari is going to have another starting backcourt without a veteran like Green.