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NBA Draft analyst breaks down UK’s pro prospects and if they should return

Who should Kentucky expect to lose this offseason?

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After a tough loss to Auburn this past Sunday in the Elite Eight, all of the conversation regarding Kentucky Basketball will be about who is staying for another year and who will go pro.

There was a bevy of NBA talent on Kentucky’s roster this year, and some excelled themselves up the NBA Draft order while others hurt their stock significantly.

The only for sure thing we now as of right now is that senior forward Reid Travis has played his last college game of his career. Whether he’ll get to play in the NBA is up in the air, but according to current mock drafts, his chances aren’t looking too good.

Other things we know almost for sure is that PJ Washington and Keldon Johnson will more than likely go pro. They have been pegged as first-round picks for most of the season and PJ has propelled himself into the lottery conversation.

Another player that has seen his name in the mix of the first round towards the latter part of this season is Tyler Herro.

Other than that, it’s really unknown as to what goes down.

The Lexington Herald caught up with ESPN’s NBA Draft Analyst Mike Schmitz to see what his thoughts are on Kentucky’s NBA-level players and whether or not they need another year or if they should go ahead and go pro. Schmitz said Herro has solidified his first-round status, so if he wants to go to the league, he’ll be more than welcomed.

Here’s what else he said about Tyler:

“I also think he has a little bit more on-ball stuff than we’ve seen,” he said. “Prior to college, he showed some more of that. So I think there’s still some potential there. … And then there’s his fight defensively. I think the thought coming in was, ‘OK, he doesn’t have the best body. He’s not super long.’ But then you see him and he’s super competitive. He’s around the ball, always. He has really good instincts. So, I think, seeing him more than survive on the defensive end has opened peoples’ eyes a little bit, too.”

One of the biggest question marks, if not the biggest question mark on this team is Ashton Hagans. Most should remember that after Hagans’ hot streak in late January into February propelled him into early second round projections.

But after lackluster play to end the season, and a bad performance in the Elite Eight game, his status is completely in the air, and ESPN ranks him as the 61st draft prospect in college.

Here’s what Schmitz said about Ashton:

“I think shooting the ball is the biggest thing for him,” Schmitz said. “Obviously, he has the length and can really defend. But showing that he can make enough shots to keep the defense honest, because there will be questions about his ability to score in the halfcourt against a set defense.

Schmitz said a return to UK could result in a rise to first-round status, given what Hagans accomplished at other points in the season: “He’s had some really nice moments this year. So, I think, just continuing to build on that.”

Based on what Schmitz is saying, it’s more than likely that we’ll see Ashton back at Kentucky next season.

As for Nick Richards and E.J. Montgomery, neither of them were ranked in ESPN’s top-100 prospects so it looks like both of them should be back in Lexington next season.

The others include Jemarl Baker and Immanuel Quickley who will almost certainly be back in Lexington next season as they haven’t been on any NBA mock draft radar. Anyone who does test the NBA waters will have until May 29th to withdraw their names and return to college.

Be sure to read the full interview.