Three Kentucky Wildcats are now expected to go in the 2020 NBA Draft.
According to Sam Vecenie of The Athletic – arguably the top draft analyst in the game, regularly speaking with league executives regarding the top draft-eligible prospects each year – Tyrese Maxey is expected to be UK’s lone first round selection, followed by Immanuel Quickley and Nick Richards in the back end of the second round.
In the latest update, Maxey came in at No. 17 overall, going to the Boston Celtics. From there, Quickley is projected to go No. 49 overall to the Philadelphia 76ers, with Richards coming in at No. 59 also to the Sixers.
For Maxey, Vecenie said the talented guard prospect “screams Celtics,” highlighting the former Wildcat’s knack for scoring at the rim, work ethic, and toughness.
“Everything about Maxey’s game screams Celtics to me,” said Vecenie. “He’s a tough kid with a terrific, powerful frame that looks like that of a free safety at 6-foot-3 with a 6-foot-6 wingspan. He also has a real personality to him, and is thought to be a great kid and a tremendous worker. More than the non-basketball stuff, though, Maxey is a real threat as an on-ball scoring guard with great craft. He finishes well at the basket, has a terrific floater game, and does a great job getting downhill to get into the paint.”
As for Quickley, Vecenie said the 6-foot-2 sharpshooter is a phenomenal fit in Philadelphia, a team desperate for shooting help.
“This is the easiest fit in the world,” said Vecenie. “Quickley is one of the elite shooters of this draft class, having hit 42.8 percent of his 3s and over 92 percent from the line. The 76ers desperately need shooters, and ones who can knock them down off of the movement.”
To close out the trio of former Wildcats, Vecenie believes Richards would be a solid long-term backup to Joel Embiid with his impressive length, shot-blocking abilities, and knack for knocking down midrange shots.
“Richards was first team All-SEC this season, and took significant steps toward turning himself back into a draftable prospect after two years of looking lost on the court at Kentucky,” said Vecenie. “He averaged 14 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game, plus has terrific measurements at a legit 7-foot with a 7-4 wingspan. Teams also strongly believe in his ability to shoot the ball from the midrange consistently at some point. His stroke is pure, and the ball comes out of his hand clean. … The 76ers could stand to take a flyer on a long-term backup to Joel Embiid.”
While Maxey, Quickley, and Richards all came off the board in the latest update, UK’s other two draft-eligible prospects – Ashton Hagans and EJ Montgomery – are not expected to hear their names called on draft night. While Hagans came in at No. 67 in Vecenie’s previous NBA Draft Big Board back in June, Montgomery was not represented in the entire top 100. Kahlil Whitney, who left the Kentucky program mid-year, was not included in the previous update, either.
What do fans think of Maxey wearing Celtic green? How about Quickley and Richards teaming up against in Philadelphia?
To read the entire 60-player mock draft, along with further analysis of the former Wildcats, check out Vecenie’s latest update over at The Athletic right here.