This morning, Matt Jones shared what he’s hearing about which Kentucky players will stay and which will go to the NBA Draft this summer. Interestingly, Matt said he’s hearing that, for the first time in the John Calipari era, there isn’t a player who is 100% certain they will go pro, and the decisions are more in flux than ever.
Here’s a summary of what he’s hearing about each player, in order of likelihood that they will leave.
“The most likely player to go the draft as of today is Shai Alexander,” Matt said. “I would put his percentage of going at extremely high. Not 100%, but extremely high.”
Kevin Knox: Knox’s father’s quotes about his son considering returning for his sophomore year are valid for three reasons: 1) His father was a professional athlete, so he knows what it takes to succeed at the next level; 2) Knox is the youngest player in the country; 3) The Knox family isn’t hurting for money.
“I think that quote is genuine,” Matt said of Knox Sr.’s comments. “I think he will end up going. I think it is substantially more likely than not that he will go, but I do not think it’s certain. I think there is a lot more of a chance of him returning than people realize.”
Matt added that Shai and Knox will certainly participate in the NBA Draft Combine to get feedback.
Hamidou Diallo: Because Hami went to the NBA Draft Combine last year, he only has one more chance to participate, which could push him towards going; however, Calipari’s opinion will have a big influence on his decision.
“Diallo is considering coming back,” Matt said. “What Cal wants him to do will have a big impact. If Cal looked at him and said, you need to come back, he might just do it. My prediction is still all three of those guys will go, but Hami has a shot at returning.”
“Wenyen Gabriel might be closer at this moment to going than Knox and Hami. As odd as that seems. That doesn’t mean he will, but I think he’s a lot farther along because he’s older…I don’t think he’ll make the NBA, but for good, bad, better, or worse, he would be the fourth most likely [to go].”
The deciding factor could be whether or not Wenyen wants to stay another year and finish his degree since he’s on track to graduate after three years.
Likely to Return
Jarred Vanderbilt: Similar to Willie Cauley-Stein a few years ago, Vanderbilt’s foot injury may keep him at Kentucky for another season, although there are people in his camp who want him to go to the Draft.
“Starting with Jarred Vanderbilt, I think these guys come back,” Matt said. “I’m not even sure he will go to the Combine because of the injury. But, there are some people around him who still want him to go to the Draft but I think he’ll end up coming back.”
“When he came here, in his mind, his plan was at least two years. So, unlike a lot of these kids, he didn’t come in thinking he’d be a one-and-done.”
“I don’t see either of them transferring as of today, but it wouldn’t shock me if they did,” Matt said. “I’m not sure Kentucky’s done yet [recruiting in the 2018 class]. Because of that, they may have to see what the roster is like.”
You can hear Matt’s comments at the start of hour one on today’s podcast: