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Only one Wildcat featured in first round of The Athletic’s updated NBA Draft Big Board

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Only one Kentucky player is expected to walk across the stage as a first-round selection in July’s NBA Draft.

In Sam Vecenie’s latest NBA Draft Big Board over at The Athletic, Isaiah Jackson was the lone Wildcat in the top 30, coming in at No. 19 overall. From there, BJ Boston came in at No. 32 overall, followed by Terrence Clarke at No. 36.

Outside of those three, no other Kentucky players were included in the top 100, meaning Olivier Sarr, Davion Mintz and Keion Brooks Jr. – UK’s lone remaining players left to make public decisions – wouldn’t likely be selected even if there were three rounds (and potentially four).

Check out Vecenie’s updated lottery projections:

  1. Cade Cunningham
  2. Jalen Suggs
  3. Evan Mobley
  4. Jalen Green
  5. Jonathan Kuminga
  6. Scottie Barnes
  7. Moses Moody
  8. Kai Jones
  9. Corey Kispert
  10. Keon Johnson
  11. Davion Mitchell
  12. James Bouknight
  13. Jaden Springer
  14. Ziaire Williams

Interestingly enough, Jackson’s father, Wesley, told Kyle Tucker of The Athletic this week that they are looking for a lottery guarantee before officially signing with an agent and leaving Kentucky. And if that guarantee doesn’t come this offseason, a return to UK is on the table.

“In my opinion, that’s what he is and needs to be. In the lottery, he’ll go to a team where he can play minutes and showcase to the world what he can do — and he hasn’t even shown half of what he can do,” Wesley Jackson said told The Athletic. “We know his value, and we’re willing to be patient. … It’s not about income. Me and his mom have been working for years, and if I have to work another year or two, it’s no skin off my bones. And we had to let him know that, to take the pressure off him. I can wait.”

Currently sitting at No. 19 overall in Vecenie’s latest update, would that five-spot difference be enough to push Jackson back to Kentucky for a sophomore campaign? It’s also worth noting that, as Tucker reported yesterday, Jackson’s father has been in contact with PJ Washington’s father about the draft process over the last few weeks.

Washington was seen as a potential first-rounder before deciding to return for a sophomore campaign, a decision that paved the way for a lottery selection just one year later. Could Jackson do the same?

For the rest of Vecenie’s Big Board, head over to The Athletic here. 

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

18 Comments for Only one Wildcat featured in first round of The Athletic’s updated NBA Draft Big Board



  1. Swizzle
    11:19 am April 2, 2021 Permalink

    I realize this is really selfish. But I hope he doesnt get the guarantee. Hes the only one I wanted back. And I think hes top 10 next year if he does return.



    • UKinIN
      11:26 am April 2, 2021 Permalink

      I wouldn’t assume a guarantee is a guarantee. I’d want to hear from multiple teams in the Lottery. I’d like my chances of going 1-4 more than 1-1.



  2. Dave C
    11:20 am April 2, 2021 Permalink

    These kids are free to do whatever they want regarding their future. But kids like Boston and Clark have disenfranchised so many College Basketball Fans….and its the current landscape and environment that’s to blame. The AAU System has eroded the entire system and has, IMO instilled a sense of one dimensional thinking that I fear is setting lots of kids of for failure. Maybe I’m wrong.



    • 4everUKBlue
      11:34 am April 2, 2021 Permalink

      I don’t believe you’re wrong, I think you pretty much nailed it.



    • BMO15
      11:44 am April 2, 2021 Permalink

      Not at all. 100% correct



  3. FinnaGoHAM
    11:42 am April 2, 2021 Permalink

    More football Wildcats with first-round grades than basketball Wildcats.



  4. DaveT999
    11:51 am April 2, 2021 Permalink

    This will be a tough call. If he comes back next year, I expect his numbers would drop, but maybe he’s more efficient.

    Let’s be hopeful for a minute and say Kellan Grady lives up to billing. He’s going to take points away from Jackson. And let’s hope Tshiebwe returns closer to his best form. He’s going to take rebounds and blocks away.

    But I have no doubt Jackson would be better as a sophomore, just not a stat stuffer on defense with more help.



  5. TheMaxCat
    12:22 pm April 2, 2021 Permalink

    The NBA drafts on potential and games that translate from college to pro. I would never begrudge a kid for taking the money. If Jackson can enhance his defense by staying out of foul problems and develop a pet move/shot he could catapult himself beyond the fringe and into the upper echelon of the lottery (while helping his college team compete for the hardware).



  6. Dustin Rumbaugh
    1:24 pm April 2, 2021 Permalink

    One of the big factors about his decision has to be playing time and scheme. If he came back he would be in a log jam of bigs. No way we can play them all. And we might have the same old issues of clogging the lane and not playing a more modern offense. Its a good problem to have but I just don’t know how it could work. Cal’s gonna earn that paycheck if he figures that situation out.



  7. runningunnin.454
    1:33 pm April 2, 2021 Permalink

    ESPN has Jackson at #11; Charles Bassey of WKU at #25; I guess I just don’t get it.



  8. BobbyBlue
    1:36 pm April 2, 2021 Permalink

    As far as I can remember,Cal has only allowed WC Stein and Terrance Jones to return out of all the guaranteed first rounders that have come through during his tenure. I would be shocked if he hasn’t already pushed Jackson out, and this isn’t just more KSR attempting to get hits.



    • T-Town Cat
      2:09 pm April 2, 2021 Permalink

      I think you’re right. Cal’s plan is to play Tshiebwe and Collins as many minutes as they can. Jackson’s return would certainly disrupt that.



    • BobbyBlue
      7:16 pm April 2, 2021 Permalink

      Cal has never done much if any redshirting during his time here. If Jackson were to miraculously return, it would seem feasible to redshirt Ware.



  9. trumpetguy
    2:21 pm April 2, 2021 Permalink

    Sounds as if the Jackson FAMILY are doing the right thing and considering their options, rather than just throwing caution to the wind and making a hasty decision they might regret. Clearly the kid needs to refine and work on his offensive skills, but it is their choice. Lets support them whatever it is!



  10. Brady
    8:04 am April 3, 2021 Permalink

    @bobbyblue, PJ was a 1st rounder but came back & became lottery I believe . Also I think Jackson needs to get a lot better in his outside shit imo, everything else is ready , especially his motor for the league . He would have to come back & b able to showcase a stretch 4 position imo , not saying he will & idk how that would mean for incoming bigs other than taking time from Oscar & Collin but I’d sure like to have him & him develop even more . Maybe we haven’t seen all he can do idk..



    • Brady
      8:05 am April 3, 2021 Permalink

      Shot*