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4 Wildcats ranked in the top 50 of new NBA Draft rankings

Which guys are destined for the first round?

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

This is the absolute best time to be a college basketball fan. Conference tournaments are wrapping up, the NCAA Tournament is ramping up, next year’s recruiting classes are being nailed down, and buzz for the NBA Draft is on the rise.

Sports Illustrated recently updated their NBA Mock Draft, ranking the top 80 players that eligible to put their names in the ring. Although the same four names of current Kentucky Wildcats continue to show up, there has been some movement at the top.

Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated actually has three Wildcats in the top 20 right now: Keldon Johnson (14), PJ Washington (17), and Tyler Herro (19). Ashton Hagans comes in at No. 47 on the list.

Here is what he has to say about each potential prospect:

14. Keldon Johnson

“Johnson has always been a player whose value lies in his floor as a likely contributor, and he’s been steady if not spectacular for the Wildcats this season. His three-point shooting has been encouraging, his competitiveness consistently runs high, and there are no glaring holes in his skill set. Johnson is somewhat mature physically and is not extremely explosive or wiggly off the bounce, which points to a more limited ceiling than some of the players ahead of him on this list, but there’s a lot to like about his game, particularly given the demand for wings who play both ends. He should be a relatively safe choice as high as the late lottery.”

17. PJ Washington

“Washington is playing the most consistently productive ball of his career at the moment, and while he’s not a huge upside guy, it’s pretty clear his base set of skills make sense together when projecting forward. He’s mobile, bouncy, and his rebounding, passing and defensive positioning enable him to impact games even when he’s not scoring. Washington has always been a sound finisher, and his jump shot continues to improve—his three-point range has looked more convincing of late, as well. From a role-player perspective, he has a lot to offer. He can continue to help himself with a strong showing in March.”

19. Tyler Herro

“Kentucky’s improved play has been a good platform for Herro to showcase his skillset, and he’s taken advantage. His ability to make difficult shots from deep and playmake a little on the side has always been endearing, and he plays with a bit more toughness than is generally advertised. Herro has cut back a bit on his tendency to over dribble, and profiles as a potentially dangerous supporting scorer on the perimeter. His body type doesn’t have much appeal from an NBA standpoint, but his overall defensive effort has been encouraging, and there have been games where he looks like his team’s best prospect. He’s more or less established himself as a first-rounder at this point.”

47. Ashton Hagans

“Hagans’ value begins on the defensive end, where he has some of the best hands in college basketball and moves his feet at a great clip. Think about De'Anthony Melton as an athletic, defensive-minded backcourt analog in last year’s draft, and Hagans comes along in a similar vein. He’s still very much developing as a playmaker and scorer, still can’t shoot, and will likely be best off returning to school to polish his game—you can also draw a skill set comparison to Trevon Duval, who went undrafted. Still, Hagans has helped himself plenty this season and could benefit from a deep Kentucky run this month.”

The draft is still a few months away, and there is a lot for all of these guys to prove before then. But as always, the decisions of these players has a direct impact on the success of next year’s team.

Do you think a top 20 projection is enough to get Tyler Herro to jump to the league?