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2 Wildcats are first-round picks in NBA Mock Draft

Both of the Cats first-star recruits are projected to be first-round picks.

Syndication: Arizona Republic Meg Potter/The Republic via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The Kentucky Wildcats are revving up for the 2021-22 college hoops season,

Their team is expected to drastically rebound from last season when COVID-19 issues caused a lack of continuity within the program. John Calipari has even noted the issues the team faced without much of an offseason or preseason.

While they have a handful of transfers in the program like Sahvir Wheeler and Kellan Grady, the Cats are going to heavily rely upon several big-time prospects to take their team to the next level.

Those transfers will still add much-needed leadership to a program typically ran by those in the first year of their collegiate careers. However, TyTy Washington and Damion Collins are the two big names Coach Cal and his staff got to Lexington this season, and both are expected to be first-round NBA Draft prospects within the next year or two.

Both are projected to be first-round picks in The Athletic’s most recent mock draft, as Sam Vecenie had Washington and Collins in the top 30.

Vecenie had Washington projected to be taken 12th overall. Here’s an excerpt of what he had to say on Washington, the nation’s 14th-overall recruit and the top recruit from the state of Arizona.

“This is just a pure bet on my end. All the sources and reports out of Kentucky have said Washington looks terrific. He’s shooting the heck out of the ball in the way that you would expect given his high school play, a critical skill that will allow him to see the floor in a crowded backcourt with Sahvir Wheeler, Kellan Grady, CJ Fredrick and Davion Mintz. He has great handle and change of pace to separate from defenders, and he plays with real toughness and physicality. He absorbs contact at the level you would hope for from a young player,” Vecenie wrote.

Down a handful of spots is the Cats’ next 5-star recruit in Collins. He was the No. 1 player out of the state of Texas, and ironically, was projected to go No. 24 to the Dallas Mavericks.

“Collins is another total wild card, as he’s this season’s high-upside, low-floor prospect. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen someone this big who can high-point the ball as Collins can. He isn’t just a good leaper for a 6-foot-10 player; he’s an elite one,” Vecenie wrote.

All-in-all, Cats got high praise from the big-name writer. Now, they’ll have to prove it on the court. In just a few weeks, we’ll see if they can do just that vs. the Duke Blue Devils.

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