Between five-star freshmen and rapidly improving returners, Kentucky’s trip to the Bahamas showcased plenty of future pros. NBA writers across the internet are weighing in on which Cats have the most pro potential, so I compiled a few of their takes for your reading pleasure, along with highlights because I’m already going through withdrawal.
Keldon Johnson: “Johnson’s play in the Bahamas confirmed suspicions that he should be unequivocally considered Kentucky’s top pro prospect and potential leading scorer,” Woo wrote. “He has legitimately earned his reputation as a competitor, and after seeing him up close a handful of times in different settings, it’s evident that Johnson’s approach is often contagious, and helps to keep teammates locked in.”
Nick Richards: “You won’t find many young centers his size who can match his fluidity and mobility (or 7’3” wingspan), and he showed off what looked to be an improved jump hook while shooting 80% from the floor on 20 attempts. He also shot an impressive 84% from the foul line. In an era where rim-running centers can succeed in the NBA without overly complex offensive roles, Richards still certainly has a chance to make it all work in his favor.”
Keldon Johnson: “At 6-foot-6 with a well-built 215-pound frame and a 6-foot-9 wingspan, Johnson has exactly what you’re looking for physically from an NBA wing. He’s not an elite athlete by NBA standards, but he’s a good one who gets the absolute most out of his tools due to his motor and high basketball IQ. Assuming the jump shot continues to come along, this is the exact skill set that NBA teams are in search of. ”
PJ Washington: “While Johnson might lead the team in scoring, I’d bet on Washington being the team’s leader and its best player — its catalyst and a potential SEC Player of the Year. The 6-foot-7 big man looked to be in better shape than he was last year, showcasing in-game leaping ability and quickness that he hadn’t yet portrayed for the Wildcats.”
Ashton Hagans: “But for me, Hagans was the player who popped of the trio. Green will be steady, and Quickley will be solid across the board. But Hagans is the best playmaker of the group due to his elite level quickness and terrific handle. He’s also the best passer, creating plays for his teammates with ease. More than that, though, Hagans’ defense at the point of attack was monstrous for the Wildcats, pestering and bothering the opposition at every single turn.”
“Keldon Johnson, who dazzled with an 18-for-25 effort in the team’s last three games, is the perimeter star Kentucky lacked a year ago. The Duke freshmen (R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish and Zion Williamson) have been the focus of the offseason. But Johnson, a 6-foot-6 wing ranked seventh in the 2018 class per ESPN.com, deserves a place in that conversation. Ashton Hagans could be a compelling contributor, too. Nick Richards is an explosive big man with an NBA future.”