With March almost here, many Kentucky fans are already wondering who will make up the roster next season.
The two biggest question marks right now are point guard Ashton Hagans and shooting guard Tyler Herro. Those two have had some great stretches this season and are easily draftable players in the 2019 NBA Draft.
However, every one and done under John Calipari that stayed healthy has been a first-round pick. While the NBA is the ultimate dream for many who play at Kentucky, Calipari has consistently convinced the non-first rounders to return for a sophomore season.
The question is, will either of Herro or Hagans be safely projected in the first round when it’s time for a final decision?
That remains to be seen, but Rick Bozich of WDRB just interviewed a pair of NBA scouts who gave their takes on Herro and Hagans.
“Tyler Herro needs to stay for another year. He needs to get stronger. Ashton Hagans needs to stay for another year,” said one scout. “He needs to improve his offense. They’re not ready, but they will be one day.”
“Ashton Hagans is probably a year away,” said the other scout. “His defense and ball-handling have been solid, but you want to see more from his offensive game.”
If the season ended today, I think there’s a good chance both would return, as they’ve both showed some nice flashes, but not nearly enough to assure they’ll be drafted at the end of Round 1.
However, there’s still plenty of season left, and with it will come more chances for both players to boost their stock. And if you’re a Kentucky fan, you may actually want to see one of them wind up going pro and being a first-round pick.
But with Kentucky trending toward being a 2 seed, they’re going to have to play excellent basketball to win four games and beat teams like Virginia, Gonzaga, Duke, Michigan, North Carolina or Tennessee to make it to the Final Four. Then you probably have 1-2 more games against them to win a national title.
It’s going to take a lot for this Kentucky team to make it to Minneapolis, which in turn require several guys playing at a high level. Ideally, Herro and Hagans are among them, though we’ve seen this Kentucky team able to beat good opponents without Hagans making a big impact.
But Herro is a different story. Many of Kentucky’s best wins have featured Herro playing great, and that must continue for the Wildcats to reach the Final Four. That’s why I believe if Kentucky makes it to the Final Four, Herro will end up going pro and being a late first-round pick.
And remember, Herro may be projected as an early second-round pick right not, but not everyone projected ahead of him will end up going pro. There are always multiple first-round prospects who return for another year. Last year saw Daniel Gafford, Jontay Porter and Bruno Fernando return to school after getting first-round projections.
Thankfully, we’re still months away from such a decision needing to be made, and hopefully, we’ve still got well over a month of Kentucky Basketball to enjoy.