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Three Wildcats featured in latest ESPN Mock Draft

It seems NBA scouts and franchises are sold on Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey as a fringe top-five pick.

In ESPN’s latest 2020 NBA Mock Draft released this morning, Maxey came in at No. 6 overall to Minnesota where he would join former Wildcats Karl-Anthony Towns and Jarred Vanderbilt with the Timberwolves.

Maxey is the first of three Kentucky players on the list, with sophomore point guard Ashton Hagans and junior center Nick Richards also included.

Hagans came in at No. 36 overall, also joining Maxey with the Timberwolves, while Richards was slotted at No. 50 overall to the Golden State Warriors.

Check out ESPN’s entire mock draft:

This comes just three days after Sam Vecenie of The Athletic released his latest 2020 NBA Mock Draft based on what he was hearing from league sources on “draft ranges on specific players.”

“At this point, the mock draft is almost entirely about what I’m hearing from sources about draft ranges on specific players, as opposed to it more being about where I am on players,” Vecenie wrote.

In that mock, The Athletic listed Maxey at No. 5 overall, followed by Hagans at No. 38 and Richards at No. 50.

Almost identical to the latest ESPN rankings.

While ESPN’s Jonathan Givony didn’t provide analysis for each of his picks, he did break down Richards’ leap into the draft boards a bit more in-depth.

Richards’ appeal starts with his tremendous physical tools — a 7-footer with a 7-5 wingspan, a chiseled, 250-pound frame and impressive athleticism. That translates to the defensive end, where Richards switches onto guards, covers ground well and uses his length to contest jumpers, while also having the bulk to bang with traditional bigs and protect the rim. Kentucky mostly keeps things simple for him offensively, but his ability to explode off two feet and finish is a huge advantage. Richards has some real touch, even starting to make free throws (75%) and midrange jumpers in small doses.

He also noted why he’s still not as bullish on Richards as others, citing the 7-foot center’s low assist and steal rate, growing age, and lack of feel for the game as key reasons for his status as a second round pick.

The game still moves too fast for him at times, which shows most notably on the defensive glass and when asked to make simple passes. No college player in the past 30 years has been drafted with a combined assist and steal rate are as low as Richards’. Considering he’s already 22, his poor feel for the game is certainly a concern when projecting him to the NBA, where his physical advantages won’t be quite as pronounced.

Most of Richards’ worst games this season came against similar-size players, so it will be important for him to continue to produce against elite competition heading into March. Despite his shortcomings, Richards has moved himself back into consideration as a draftable player, something that looked likely when he first enrolled at Kentucky and just took longer than initially expected.

With these newest draft projections, Kentucky would be expected to return the likes of EJ Montgomery, Immanuel Quickley, Keion Brooks Jr., Johnny Juzang, and Dontaie Allen, along with the No. 1 recruiting class in 2020 featuring the likes of BJ Boston, Terrence Clarke, Devin Askew, Isaiah Jackson, Lance Ware, and Cam’Ron Fletcher coming in.

There is still a month left before the NCAA Tournament brackets are released, so plenty can (and will) shift regarding players and their draft stock – I would still be shocked to see Montgomery and Quickley back – but it’s still an interesting possibility nonetheless.

What would fans think about that potential lineup next season?

(ESPN)

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

18 Comments for Three Wildcats featured in latest ESPN Mock Draft



  1. michaelb
    11:23 am February 17, 2020 Permalink

    Some reason i think Nick is gonna be a really good rookie and have a nice nba career . As a longtime blue blood and Nick Richards fan it’s really touching . This kid is a warrior glad to have him and glad he never drifted away . He’s surpassed his 5 star billing now . Success



  2. michaelb
    11:28 am February 17, 2020 Permalink

    ANTHONY EDWARDS ?? Haha okay whatever . Size counts for a lot in the league and it shouldn’t be trending that way due to everyone playing small ball . Kind of a paradox . Technically 6’2 and 6’3 guards with great skills (like quick and hagans should find a home in the nba . Tyree from o miss is better than Edwards just ain’t as big



    • ClutchCargo
      1:50 pm February 17, 2020 Permalink

      Don’t underestimate how good a pro Edwards will be. And having guards with his size and skills are partly what makes small ball work. Sort of like positionless basketball without the traditional front court.



    • davisfeathers
      3:01 pm February 17, 2020 Permalink

      i don’t get it either. I know he is 6’5, 225, but still. he looks like shit so far



  3. 8 god
    11:29 am February 17, 2020 Permalink

    If the Morris Twins can play in the NBA, Nick Richards can play in the NBA



  4. StuckinLville
    11:29 am February 17, 2020 Permalink

    I know most thought EJ would leave, but he hasn’t improved his draft stock at all so why would he? He sees what happened with Nick in three years so maybe he will let that sink in. And why would Quickley leave? He’s never been projected in the draft so coming back for a third year and being the teams leader will only help him. But, I guess this all depends on how the rest of the season plays out. I’m just glad UK players realize that they don’t have to leave after a year or two now.



    • damage_control
      3:19 pm February 17, 2020 Permalink

      It would be a great example if Richards gets drafted in the first round but if he goes mid 2nd, maybe EJ figures what’s the point.



  5. az1006
    11:43 am February 17, 2020 Permalink

    Quickley is intriguing to me. He’s an outstanding college player, and may play in the NBA at some point. But, i don’t know if he’s drafted, even if he stays another year. That’s the issue with him. I hope he stays, because he’s arguably our best player now…Imagine if he returns for his junior season. Again, I don’t see him leaving, but you just never know what players are thinking.

    Otherwise, it appears as though we’ll return a good portion of our production, and that’s encouraging. I think Montgomery will look at Nick and see how far he has to go, and how far he can go by returning.



  6. IrishCat
    11:58 am February 17, 2020 Permalink

    Nick Richards at 50 is a STEAL. I still think he ends up first round.



  7. CALfacts
    12:27 pm February 17, 2020 Permalink

    IQ is a very grounded guy, which says a lot about his family! I feel if he isn’t in 1st 2 rounds, he will come back and continue to get better!!



    • davisfeathers
      3:03 pm February 17, 2020 Permalink

      would hate for him to get drafted in the 3rd round



    • CrystalBall
      4:10 pm February 17, 2020 Permalink

      Funny, davisfeathers.



  8. Aar
    1:54 pm February 17, 2020 Permalink

    I’ve been wondering why Richards’ stock wasn’t higher and the assists/steals comment is revealing. To a degree, like 3s, passing out of the post is just not part of Cal-ball. However, Cal’s UK 5s who’ve made it in the NBA have all been exceptional passers – like Boogie, Ant and KAT. There must be a point to that comment. Counterpoint, at a physical age of 22 but starting hoops very late how does Richards’ “basketball age” compare to others in the draft?

    I’d love to see similar analysis of Quickley. Since this team needs him to finish instead of facilitate, I’d guess the analysis would be similar to that of Richards.



    • CrystalBall
      4:13 pm February 17, 2020 Permalink

      Disagree Aar. Many times I have heard, or read, about Cal stressing the in-out passing game.



  9. ClutchCargo
    1:59 pm February 17, 2020 Permalink

    As much as I would hate to see him go, I’m not sure what IQ stands to gain by coming back other than get closer to a college degree. He is probably already the player he is going to be, unless he somehow has the opportunity to play PG and improve in that area.



    • IrishCat
      1:28 am February 18, 2020 Permalink

      Askew will be fine, but if IQ comes back I think he gets all the minutes he wants at point next year, and does exactly that.



  10. damage_control
    3:13 pm February 17, 2020 Permalink

    If Anthony Edwards came to UK he’d be getting absolutely crushed for being a disappointment. I think he knew he didn’t wanna deal with that and chose to fly under the radar. Even ESPN can’t raise his star at that dumpster fire of a program.



  11. dan1965
    12:38 am February 18, 2020 Permalink

    There’s only 2 rounds of draft in the NBA davisfeathers, not sure if u were joking though ?
    I love IQ,with all the great guard play in the NBA from our former guards, not sure why some teams wouldn’t really consider IQ.
    I love Nick,but in the NBA he has got to have an evening higher motor IMO. Don’t take that wrong,I just think now he doesn’t demand the ball more,if he did I think he could avg. over 20 a game.
    Guard play in the NBA is where its at now when it comes to leading a team,and I think Maxxey has the ability to do that. He can get to the lane,he just needs to work more on perimeter shooting,especially from 3.
    Which is where Hagan’s comes in,because he really needs to work on his shot more from outside,enough to keep a defense honest. He gets to the lane,and time,but we all know even there he has had trouble finishing. He also admittedly has been inconsistent with turnovers,all things he will have to continue to improve to be a good NBA player,and will probably take a couple more years once there.
    Ashton’s upside is his defense when he really puts it in gear,his leadership, & willingness and ability to pass the ball for assists. I think in time when he reaches the NBA he will be a good point guard,but honestly as a reserve off the bench. If he can ever improve his shooting that could change,but at this point,I’m only seeing him as a back up.