The NBA Draft, one of John Calipari’s favorite holidays and where young basketball players see their dreams become reality, is just under two months away.
Dating back to 2008, the Kentucky Wildcats have had a player selected in 14 straight drafts, with 45 total selections during that stretch.
This year, four Wildcats have entered their names into the draft, two of which are in the lottery range of many NBA Mock Drafts, making it almost a certainty that the streak will extend to 15.
Let’s see where they stand in the latest ESPN mock draft from Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz.
Draft Projection: No. 6, Portland Trail Blazers
After declaring for the NBA Draft last week, it appears that Shaedon Sharpe will be a top-10 selection without playing a single minute at Kentucky.
Sharpe entered his name while maintaining his college eligibility, which technically means there is still a possibility of a return. However, some have reported that to just be a formality, as Sharpe must declare for the draft in order for the NBA to rule on his unique case of eligibility.
Tabbed as the mystery man of this year’s draft, Sharpe is an elite talent with the potential to be a top-five pick. Already with an NBA frame, Sharpe has some of the best scoring instincts in this year's draft.
If it were up to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, Sharpe may go No. 1.
Watched Shaedon Sharpe in a competitive one on one workout today. Combination of size, length, frame, fluidity, scoring instincts and defensive versatility are incredibly impressive. Looks like the No. 1 pick in the draft in this setting. Talent. pic.twitter.com/cezR0sPHOk— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) April 24, 2022
Draft Projection: No. 17 Houston Rockets
TyTy Washington is the lone Wildcat that entered the draft and decided to forego his college eligibility. Coming into the season as Kentucky’s highest-rated recruit, and expected one-and-done, this was hardly a surprise.
Following a pair of injuries late in the season, Washington was not playing his best at the end of the season. Despite that, it seems that the NBA is still high on Washington and his skillset.
Fitting the mold of a combo guard, the NBA believes that he could be as successful as other Wildcats with a similar style, such as Immanuel Quickley and Tyrese Maxey.
Keion Brooks Jr.
Draft Projection: Not Listed
Following his junior campaign, Keion Brooks Jr. opted to enter his name into the NBA Draft while retaining his eligibility.
Standing at 6-foot-8 190-pounds, Brooks has the size and versatility to play as a two-way wing in the NBA, but has yet to show that he can be a consistent perimeter threat. Until he can further develop his three-point shot, he will continue to project in the undrafted range.
In a radio interview where John Calipari spoke in regards to next season’s roster, there was not one mention of Brooks. This could be looked at in one of two ways: One, Calipari does not want to place pressure on Brooks to make a decision, or two, Brooks is anticipated to be elsewhere this fall.
If Brooks were to return, he would become just the second out-of-state player to stay four years in the Calipari era.
Draft Projection: Not Listed
Jacob Toppin was another Wildcat to enter his name in the NBA Draft while maintaining his eligibility and is looking to receive NBA feedback.
Toppin excels above the rim and with his elite jumping ability, and showed the ability to hit the mid-range shot last season. However, he will need to expand his offensive skill set to raise his draft stock.
In the Calipari radio interview that was mentioned earlier, Jacob Toppin was listed as a name that was expected to return next season. Pairing that with other reports of an expected return, the evidence is building that we will see Obi Toppin’s brother back in Lexington next season.
Draft Projection: No. 38 to San Antonio Spurs
Kentucky is still in the running for high school recruit Leonard Miller, who is eligible for this year’s draft and is being projected as a a top-40 selection. The belief has been that he would ultimately opt to play for the NBA G-League Ignite this fall, but it appears going straight to the NBA is now a legitimate option.
Don’t count on Kentucky being able to sway Miller from going pro.