Not only is the month important for the Wildcats to put themselves in the best situation for March, but for several players, it’s a chance to boost their NBA Draft stock.
In CBS Sports’ latest mock draft by Gary Parish, two current Wildcats are projected first-round picks while just one is projected to be a lottery selection.
The player projected to be a lottery pick is Tyrese Maxey as the eighth overall pick of the Chicago Bulls.
Here’s what Parish had to say about Maxey as a potential lottery pick.
“Maxey got 26 points in the season-opening victory over Michigan State while showing all of the things that made most assume he’d be UK’s leading scorer this season. In reality, though, he’s UK’s fourth-leading scorer. He’s struggled to find any consistent level of production. And he’s only shooting 30.6% from 3-point range. But, despite everything I just typed, Maxey remains a probable top-10 pick, mostly because he’s at least shown flashes of brilliance that most prospects available have not.”
While the freshman has had an up and down season, he’s one of the fastest players in college basketball and has shown the ability to take over a game when his team needs him most.
The other Wildcat projected to be selected in the first round, according to Parish, is Ashton Hagans, who appears as the 29th overall pick of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Here’s what Parish had to say about Hagans:
“Hagans is the best on-ball perimeter defender in college basketball, just an absolute nightmare for opposing guards who seems to always make big plays when Kentucky needs them. His shooting is clearly an issue; no denying that. But he’s so tough, and so good with his hands, I genuinely believe he’ll be in the NBA for many years to come.”
Hagans is arguably the best defensive point guard in the nation, but his struggles finishing at the rim likely keeps him out of the lottery.
Not listed on this mock draft is Nick Richards. Richards is arguably the front runner for SEC player of the year, as he’s averaging 14.4 points per game and 8.3 rebounds. But in a new-look NBA where centers are not as important to a team's’ success, he doesn’t make this mock draft as a first-rounder.
The only other Wildcat that seems draftable right now is Immanuel Quickley, but he still has work to do just to be projected in the second round, let alone the first.
Here’s a look at Parish’s projected top-10 selections:
- Atlanta Hawks: Anthony Edwards, Georgia
- Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman, Memphis
- New York Knicks: LaMelo Ball, Australia
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Obi Toppin, Dayton
- Washington Wizards: Cole Anthony, North Carolina
- Charlotte Hornets: Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Killian Hayes: France
- Chicago Bulls: Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky
- Sacramento Kings: Jaden McDaniels, Washington
- Detroit Pistons: Deni Avdija, Israel