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NBA Mock Draft has 3 Wildcats, including Nick Richards

Finally, some NBA love for Junior Nick Richards.

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Richards Jeremy Chisenhall - Sea of Blue

With less than two months left in the college hoops season, we’re getting a better picture of what the 2020 NBA Draft will look like.

For the Kentucky Wildcats, they should have around three players hearing their names called in June’s draft, but to this point, very few projections have included Nick Richards.

The junior center is having a breakout season and has established himself as one of the best big men in college hoops. However. very few mock drafts have included Richards, even the ones that project all 60 selections.

Thankfully, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic is giving Richards some of the respect he deserves, as this projection sees the Jamaican selected 50th overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he would team up with former Wildcats Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Nerlens Noel and Hamidou Diallo.

Welcome to the mock draft, Nick Richards! The Kentucky center has been one of the better players in the SEC this season, and has really taken some steps forward. The best scenario for him is for someone to draft him as a two-way player, and hope that they can develop his burgeoning jump shot, his feel for the game as a passer and his level of consistency in regard to his approach. Still, players who are legitimate 7-footers with real potential to shoot and protect the rim don’t grow on trees, and Richards is interesting.

As long as Richards keeps up his current level of play, someone will absolutely take him in this year’s draft, and he could even sneak into the end of Round 1 since this is a pretty weak class of prospects.

This projection also includes Ashton Hagans going 38th overall pick to the Washington Wizards, who will almost certainly be looking for a new point guard this coming offseason with the expectation that John Wall gets moved soon.

I have a soft spot for Hagans. He’s one of my favorite players in college basketball this season, a legitimate leader of his team that provides so much positive energy. He’s also just generally the kind of dude I like having around: a tough, no-nonsense dude that will rip your throat out on the floor if you let him with his on-ball defense. The shooting remains a concern, and his production has really dropped off in recent weeks and he’s had to be picked up by his teammates. But for a Washington team trying to build a strong culture under Tommy Sheppard, I love this move.

The highest Wildcat to go in this projection is Tyrese Maxey, who has been consistently projected as a top-10 pick this season. This one has Maxey going fifth overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he would team up with Kentucky great Karl-Anthony Towns.

While Maxey has had an up-and-down season, he has become a more consistent offensive threat in recent weeks, as he’s hit 20 of his last 39 shots from the field for a 51.3% shooting clip. However, his three-point shot is still a major work in progress, as he’s shooting just 31.4% from deep, though he is shooting 39.3% from deep over his last 11 games.

If Maxey’s offense can remain consistent through the postseason, it’s not a stretch to think he could go a higher than No. 5 by the time the draft rolls around.

Be sure to read the entire mock draft here.