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UK players and recruits make up ESPN’s NBA Mock Draft for 2021

Terrence Clarke is already viewed as a top-five NBA Draft pick.

Terrence Clarke Announces Attendance at University of Kentucky Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The hype is at an all-time high for Kentucky Basketball, as Big Blue Madness wrapped up last week, and the season is now in reaching distance.

One of the bigger stories to come out of Friday’s event was Cade Cunningham. He skipped out on a Team USA gathering to attend Big Blue Madness, and Evan Daniels submitted his pick for arguably the best player in 2020 to pick the Kentucky Wildcats.

If that weren’t exciting enough, ESPN just dropped their first Mock Draft for the 2021 NBA Draft, and guess who’s sitting on top? Cade Cunningham.

It certainly looks like Cunningham is going to be one of those generational talents. He stands at 6-foot-6 and can hurt you in all aspect of the game. As it stands right now, his top schools are Kentucky, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, and Washington, though it’s believed to be essentially a Wildcats vs. Cowboys battle.

One of the tricky aspects of Cunningham’s recruitment is that his brother, Cannen Cunningham, is an assistant at Oklahoma State. This is why Oklahoma State has the majority of votes on the crystal ball.

As for the rest of the mock draft, there are actually quite a few Kentucky players on the list.

Terrance Clarke is set to be picked #5 in the draft. Clarke is Kentucky’s highest ranked recruit (#4) since 2015. He’s a dynamic shooting guard that will you hurt you off the bounce and spotting up. He alone would be a tremendous player to build a recruiting class around, but it sounds like there’s a real chance he’ll get to team up with Cunningham and form what may be the best 1-2 punch in college hoops.

The next Kentucky player off the board is BJ Boston, who is set to be picked #10 in the draft. BJ is a very versatile forward that can light up the scoreboard. He was Calipari’s first commitment of the 2020 class.

Finally, Johnny Juzang comes off the board at #30. This would mean Juzang stays another year at Kentucky. But with all the preseason hype he’s getting, don’t be surprised if he’s part of the 2020 draft.

It is also important to note that another undecided player in this mock, Jonathan Kuminga, could potentially be playing in Lexington as well. ESPN has him coming off the board at #6, but he’s ranked the #1 recruit in the country for the 2021 class.

Kuminga scored an offer from Kentucky back in February, so it will be interesting to see what he does. Kuminga has said he’s not reclassifying, but that’s what most elite recruits typically say going into their junior season before ultimately reclassifying in the ensuing summer. As long as Kuminga can academically make the jump, we should probably expect to see him in the 2020 class.

Everyone will definitely be holding their breath for both Cunningham and Kuminga. If the Cats manage to pick up one of these guys, it’s going to be one of the best, if not the best, recruiting class we’ve seen come through Lexington.

Another Kentucky recruit in this projection is Greg Brown at #9 overall. If Kentucky gets Cunningham, it will give them a major boost in the recruitment of Brown, as they’re both Texas natives and AAU teammates.

Here is what the top 10 of this projection looks like:

1. Cavaliers - Cade Cunningham

2. Hornets - Evan Mobley

3. Knicks - Jalen Green

4. Grizzlies - Ziaire Williams

5. Suns - Terrence Clarke

6. Wizards - Jonathan Kuminga

7. Bulls - Jalen Johnson

8. Thunder - Usman Garuba

9. Hawks - Greg Brown

10. Kings B.J. Boston