It’s officially mock draft season, but barring any major surprises, we pretty much know where Kentucky’s NBA hopefuls will go. PJ Washington is predicted to go in the lottery, while Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson are first-round locks that can work their way into the top 14 through the Combine and workouts. EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards both declared for the draft to see where they stand, but I imagine both will be told it’s in their best interest to return to Kentucky for another season.
But what about the 2020 NBA Draft? ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz released a mock for next summer based on the high school all-star games this spring. Three Kentucky Wildcats made the cut, all in the first round:
11. Los Angeles Lakers: Tyrese Maxey
19. Los Angeles Clippers: Kahlil Whitney
28. Golden State Warriors: Ashton Hagans
Maxey jumped ten spots from the previous version, which Schmitz says is due to an impressive performance on the all-star circuit.
“Maxey helped himself in a big way over the past month with his shot-making, scoring instincts, touch in the paint, confidence and defensive energy at 6-3 with a strong frame and 6-6 wingspan. While he wasn’t overly prolific in the Hoop Summit game or Jordan Brand Classic, his talent has really stood out, as he’s an ideal fit in the modern NBA with his ability to shoot off the dribble with range, change speeds to get to floaters and make the necessary reads to eventually become more of a lead guard. Maxey is still wired to score, as he’ll fire contested jumpers early in the clock or fail to deliver basic passes in traffic. But he also showed enough instincts and change of pace to suggest he’ll be able to play more on the ball down the road.
“Inconsistent defensively in the past, Maxey guarded with great energy as well, fighting bigger wings in the post and making an effort to slide with guards on the perimeter. He’s not the most traditionally explosive leaper and has to keep his frame in check, but Maxey has three-level scoring potential and quite a bit of value in the modern game. Maxey figures to fit well next to Ashton Hagans at Kentucky and could easily have a Coby White-like rise if given the freedom in Lexington.”
His comments regarding Kahlil Whitney weren’t quite as kind. Whitney dropped from No. 11 to No. 19 due to “lack of skill level and feel in the half court” in the all-star games, but Schmitz says he has potential to move back up based on his role in Lexington.
“Whitney remains a dynamic open-court athlete and a hard-nosed defender with at least some shooting potential to grow into. Because of that, he’s still a one-and-done candidate, but if he plays mostly on the wing in Lexington and is asked to create offense in the half court, Whitney might end up spending more time in the collegiate ranks than originally anticipated.”
If you’ve got an ESPN Insider account, you can see the entire mock draft at the link below.