The Kentucky Wildcats earned the No. 2 seed in the East Region of the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
They couldn’t have made it this far without West Virginia transfer Oscar Tshiebwe, who leads the team in points and the conference in rebounds per game. Freshman standout TyTy Washington has been another critical piece to the team’s success.
ESPN recently mocked both Wildcats’ stars as first-round picks.
Draft analysts Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz created the draft, which only features players in the 2022 NCAA Tournament. They have the Portland Trail Blazers, who dealt guard CJ McCollum at the NBA trade deadline, taking Washington at No. 9.
As for Tshiebwe, they have him being selected at No. 29 to the Memphis Grizzlies. Here’s an excerpt of what they wrote on the potential player of the year.
“Tshiebwe lacks some modern elements to his game, having a difficult time defending in space on the perimeter, scoring outside the paint and facilitating for others, but it’s difficult to argue with his productivity and sheer intensity, which should give him a ready-made role early in his NBA career. Just how high Tshiebwe gets drafted is what scouts are trying to determine, but a deep NCAA tournament run that includes strong showings against physical frontcourts could go a long way in solidifying his standing and potentially emerge as a first-round prospect,” Givony wrote.
Some may wonder how much the tournament could impact value.
Well, for ESPN’s analysts, they’re looking at a potential Purdue-Kentucky matchup as the No. 3 and No. 2 seeds in the East Region and see a chance for Washington to prove himself.
“While Washington isn’t the most dynamic player or overly shifty ball handler, scouts will be studying his ball skills and ability to break down his man, as he has been far more efficient and effective against lesser teams, boasting a 50.5 true shooting percentage (TS%) in 21 games against teams with a winning record versus a 61.5 TS% in nine games against teams under .500. NBA teams also will keep a close eye on his defense, which has been up and down. A head-to-head matchup with Ivey in the Sweet 16 would be a great chance for Washington to prove that his more methodical game can hold up against a high-level athlete,” Schmitz wrote.
Tshiebwe averaged 17.3 points and 15.3 rebounds per game in the regular season, while Washington scored 12.2 per game. Washington did step up in the SEC Tournament, averaging 21 per game.
The two have star potential, and it appears likely that Washington will be a lottery pick this year.
Tshiebwe, however, still looks like a second-round pick, but a big showing in the Big Dance could propel him into the end of Round 1.