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Where the Wildcats stand in ESPN’s new NBA mock draft

Could someone else find their way into the draft?

NCAA Basketball: UAB at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Every year, the college basketball season ends for Big Blue Nation at the NBA Draft. Sometimes there are guys that go much higher than expect, and other guys have slipped. But one thing has been consistent: there will be Kentucky Wildcats taken in the draft.

According to ESPN’s newest 2020 Mock Draft, three Wildcats have a good chance to have their names called in the first two rounds next June. These three names come as no surprise, although their draft positions have fluctuated quite a bit since the season began.

Tyrese Maxey will likely be the first guy off the board. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz have him penciled in as a top 10 pick at No. 8, headed to Washington to play with John Wall.

Maxey has shown the most star-power of anyone on this year’s team, but he has also disappeared from time to time. Given how early it is in the season, Maxey has a great opportunity heading into the spring to solidify himself as a top 10 selection.

The second player that ESPN has coming off the board is Kahlil Whitney at No. 24 to Oklahoma City, where he would play alongside former Wildcats Shai Gileous-Alexander and Hamidou Diallo.

Whitney has not met expectations so far this year, but he has shown spurts of great athleticism as well as the ability to put points on the board. If he is able to put together some consistency, he has the physical ability to play his way into the lottery. However, a lot will have to change for that to happen.

The final Wildcat on ESPN’s mock draft is Ashton Hagans. Hagans is predicted to be a late second round selection at No. 55 overall to Charlotte. Hagans is probably gone after this season, regardless of draft position. But if he can fight his way into the first round, his departure is an absolute certainty. Hagans has to show consistency shooting the basketball from behind the three-point line, and if his defensive prowess continues to develop he can be a solid NBA point guard for a long time.

I am sure Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery would love to see their names mentioned here. And if the Wildcats are to make a deep run in March, at least one of those guys has to make strides toward becoming a first round draft pick.