The 2018 NBA Draft is over, which means we can start looking to what the 2019 class looks like.
For the Kentucky Wildcats, the early projections have PJ Washington and Keldon Johnson firmly in the Round 1 range and could even sneak into the lottery. At ESPN, their 2019 projection has Johnson going No. 13 overall to the Miami Heat. He’s arguably UK’s best incoming recruit, not to mention one of the most polished prospects John Calipari has ever landed in Lexington.
Johnson doesn’t score in bunches or routinely throw down highlight-reel dunks, but he’s very solid in every aspect of his game. He already plays like a college upperclassman, so it’s hard to see him not being part of the 2019 draft as a first-round pick.
As for Washington, he actually is a experienced college ‘veteran’ by UK standards. He’s also primed for a big sophomore season after a promising freshman year. ESPN has him going 20th to the Indiana Pacers.
Those are the only two Cats in this projection. Here is what the top 10 of it looks like:
1. Hawks - R.J. Barrett
2. Celtics - (via SAC) Nassir Little
3. Magic- Sekou Doumbouya
4. Mavericks - Cam Reddish
5. Suns - Romeo Langford
6. Nets - Quentin Grimes
7. Knicks - Zion Williamson
8. Grizzlies - Darius Garland
9. Bulls - De’Andre Hunter
10. Hornets - Daniel Gafford
Next season, UK will actually go against seven of the projected top 10 picks at some point in the regular season. Just more proof that UK’s loaded team will be met with an equally loaded schedule.
The guys at SB Nation have three UK guys going in Round 1 of their 2019 mock, which is acts more as a ranking of the top prospects.
12. Keldon Johnson, G, Kentucky
Listed at 6’6 and 225 pounds, Johnson is a big off-guard with impressive shot-making ability. He’s good going to the basket and has shown an ability to hit jumpers off the dribble or in catch-and-shoot situations. Kentucky will be stacked as always next season, but Johnson has a chance to establish himself as the team’s go-to scorer on the perimeter.
29. E.J. Montgomery, F, Kentucky
An athletic 6’10 big man who is comfortable with the ball in his hands, can hit the glass and shows a developing lefty shooting stroke, Montgomery is part of a stacked Kentucky frontcourt. Who knows if he’ll get to show his true talent level with all those stars in front of him, but as long as he continues to play with a high motor, he’s a name to monitor.
30. PJ Washington, C, Kentucky
Washington is intriguing as a small ball NBA center. Only 6’7 but blessed with a 7’3 wingspan, Washington has developing offensive skill level and the strength to hold his own in the post.
Sure, we’re a year away from the 2019 draft, but it’s nice to see several of the Cats are already highly thought of going into next season, which is shaping up to be a very special one in Lexington.