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What we Learned about the Kentucky Wildcats at the NBA Combine

Stacy Revere | Getty Images

The action on the court at the NBA Combine has concluded.

Four Wildcats were in Chicago for the evaluation event — Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo and P.J. Washington.  The projected lottery picks, Knox and SGA, were only measured, while Washington and Diallo fought to raise their draft stock.  Where they stand now is still unknown, but we do know a little bit more about their basketball future.

Washington wants a Guarantee

“If I get a second round guarantee, I’m definitely going back to school,” Washington told reporters Thursday.  “Right now, if it’s a first round, I should take it.  If it’s a second round, I should come back (to school).”

Now it’s just a matter of what he hears from teams.  The deadline to withdraw from the draft is June 11 at 5:00 p.m.

Diallo met with Two Teams

The athletic phenom who stole the show a year ago has hired an agent and cannot return to Kentucky.  Now in the process of meeting with teams, the first two are the Washington Wizards and the Philadelphia 76ers.  The Wizards’s pick at No. 44 overall fits Diallo’s stock.  The Sixers have more options with the 26th, 38th, 39th and 56th picks.

Money-Making Scrimmages

While Diallo declined to participate in the scrimmage portion of the combine, his teammate made the most of the opportunity.  Washington finished his first scrimmage with a double-double, and reached double figures on day two.  He combined for 24 points and 15 rebounds in 40 minutes of 5-on-5 action.  Few players were more consistent than Washington.

Bilas Believes

The ESPN analyst named Washington as one of the four top performers from day one at the combine.


Turning Heads

Bilas wasn’t the only impressed by Washington.  Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo said Washington’s stock is rising, although he’s unsure what it means for the Wildcat’s decision.

“Two strong combine days makes Washington’s draft decision a bit more interesting. He’s said publicly he wants to turn pro only if he’s a first-round pick, and while that deal is far from sealed, he at least gave teams more to think about this week.

Washington is a unique player, standing 6’7” but utilizing long arms and plus athletic ability to bang on the inside. He showed a good understanding of the floor, rebounded aggressively, and notably hit three midrange jumpers in a row early in Friday’s scrimmage. Washington’s unique skill set will only fit with certain lineups as a small-ball big, but he certainly does enough to get drafted. If he really wants to be a first-rounder it may help his case to go back, but he’s at least turned some heads.”

Dropping Verticals

Some people have bad days.  That might be what happened to Hamidou Diallo, who reached 40.5 inches at this year’s combine.  That number was good enough to tie for sixth, but it was four inches shorter than the record-setter at last year’s combine.

Washington can’t simply chalk it up as a bad day.  His vertical leap was nine inches shorter in Chicago than it was at UK last summer.  How that can happen, I do not know, but he recovered well enough in the scrimmages to put the poor leap in his past.

So. Much. Length.

The official measurements prove what we already knew — last year’s Kentucky team was LONG.

Player Body Fat Hand Length Hand Width Height w/o Shoes Height w/Shoes Standing Reach Weight Wingspan
Hamidou Diallo 4.45% 8.75 9 6’4.25 6’6″ 8’7″ 197 6’11.5
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 3% 9 9 6’4.5 6’6″ 8’8″ 180 6’11.5
Kevin Knox 4.95% 8.75 9.25 6’7.75 6’9″ 9″ 212.6 6’11.75
PJ Washington 6.85% 9 10.25 6’6.5 6’8″ 8’11” 223 7’2.5

An Interesting Comparison

After seeing Diallo run through drills all weekend, CBS’ Reid Forgrave walked away with an interesting NBA comparison — Zach Lavine.  How is Diallo like the former Slam Dunk Champion?  He’s an “incredible athlete who needs to learn to become a basketball player.”  Diallo can’t completely hate that comparison, especially if he is somehow picked as high as Lavine was at No. 13 overall.

Why Vanderbilt did not Attend

One Wildcat declined the NBA Combine invitation.  Many expected Jarred Vanderbilt stayed home because of an injury.  Calipari confirmed to reporters that Vanderbilt “physically could not participate.”

This weekend should have provided clarity on Vanderbilt and Washington’s status.  P.J. probably did enough to leave, but it’s still uncertain what he and Vanderbilt will do.  They have 23 days to make a decision.


Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

5 responses to “What we Learned about the Kentucky Wildcats at the NBA Combine”

  1. nickwheatley23

    I think deadline to withdraw your name is May 30 not June 11

    1. coolclay

      You are current, June 11th is the deadline for international players to withdraw their names.

  2. chris43

    Can’t blame SGA AND Knox at all for leaving even though they truly aren’t ready and still need to develop. This is today’s NBA and that’s just how it goes. They’d risk far too much by staying. Washington def needs to come back for another year. I don’t care what two days at the combine show as I watched an ENTIRE SEASON where one game he looked like a stud, the next so so, and the next pretty much vanished. If he leaves the G league is in his future. Vanderbilt needs to stay after not being able to compete at the combine. I hate it for him as he’s one hell of a player. The risk is there coming back due to injury but I can’t see him getting drafted at this point. Diallo is another who is by no means ready for the NBA. He didn’t even dominate college. He’s a freak athlete and due to this was able to be a beast at HS level. But at this point he’s a long way from being even a good basketball player as in terms on NBA level. Would coming back help? IDK as I’m not sure he’d play all that much. Gabriel…family needs money so he most likely goes overseas. I can’t blame him for that. But it’s also a shame because he’s one year away from his degree and who knows maybe another year and he’d be ready to make the leap. It’ll be a stressful but interesting couple of weeks to say the least.

  3. sp

    If Cal really wanted to help Washington he’d convince him to come back and stop calling the last four or five teams drafting in the first round to convince them to take him. I realize that’s what the players feel like he should be doing, but in reality Washington going to a good team, drafting at the end of the first round that doesn’t need him is only going to hurt PJ in the long run. He needs to come back and improve his stock and get on a team that’s not going to automatically send him to the G league where we may never see him again.

  4. bluecrowe

    As for Vanderbilt, didn’t we hear rumblings he was going to need surgery? Why has he not already had it? If he knew he could not physically attend combine to workout for teams and needs surgery, what is going on? How hurt is he? Can he play next year without having surgery?