The absolute deadline for players to decide whether they want to return to school or take their shot in the NBA Draft is still a month and a half away, but at this point, it’s looking more and more certain that all three UK players looking to make the jump are locks to be first round picks.
NBC Sports released their latest mock draft over the weekend, and the way they see it, all three Cats will make it inside the top-20, but none of them will break into the lottery. Their highest projection is PJ Washington at No. 16 to the Orlando Magic:
16. Orlando Magic: P.J. Washington, PF, Kentucky: Nikola Vucevic is an impending free agent and the Magic continue to bolster their front court for a third consecutive draft. Washington is strong around the rim and improved his touch from 10 to 15 feet and extended his range to the 3-point line after coming back to Kentucky for his sophomore season. He’s still got plenty of upside and would improve Orlando’s depth inside.
From there, Keldon Johnson is projected as the next pick up, going 17th to the Brooklyn Nets, with Tyler Herro following closely behind at 19 to the San Antonio Spurs.
We know KJ wants to hear his name somewhere in the top 14, but it’s hard to imagine him passing up going just a few picks later. And after a breakout season, Tyler Herro is well worth a look in that neighborhood as well.