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Where Kentucky players rank in ESPN’s Top 100 Draft Prospects

This weekend, most Kentucky players will head home to spend Easter with their families and discuss their futures. Yesterday, we gave you what we’re hearing about who will stay and who will go. Today, we’ll share some national intel on where each prospect could be drafted should they decide to make the leap to the next level.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (formerly of Draft Express) has five Cats in his current Top 100 draft prospects:

12. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
14. Kevin Knox
35. Hamidou Diallo
47. PJ Washington
64. Jarred Vanderbilt

Givony writes that few players helped their stock more in March than Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, even if his final performance — like Kentucky’s — was disappointing.

“Gilgeous-Alexander elevated his stock firmly into lottery territory with an amazing month of March, including helping Kentucky win the SEC tournament and making the Elite Eight Sweet 16, which is a strong accomplishment considering how this team looked in the middle of February. A huge part of the resurgence is due to Gilgeous-Alexander emerging as UK’s best player (and likely best prospect), but he still does have his fair share of flaws, as he demonstrated in the Wildcats’ final game.”

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Mike Schmitz praises the strides Kevin Knox made with his shooting this season, but said questions remain about his toughness.

“Knox didn’t solidify himself as a lock top-10 pick this March, but he’s a comfortable lottery selection with a healthy combination of floor and ceiling despite some inconsistencies and shortcomings.”

So…do you settle for late lottery knowing you could be a top ten (or maybe even top five) pick if you come back for a year? That’s the question Knox and his family will mull over this weekend.

[ESPN Top 100, Stock Watch]

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Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

37 Comments for Where Kentucky players rank in ESPN’s Top 100 Draft Prospects



  1. Biglaw Dawgin'
    1:41 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

    All of the players considering the draft need to look at the below chart. Under the chart, it makes much more financial sense for a player getting drafted 13th to come back and try to get drafted 8th or lower. Over 3 years, a rookie drafted 13th will make about $7.7M. But a player drafted just 5 spots earlier at #8, will make about $10.5M. If you can get up to top 5, then you’re talking $13.6 over 3 years.

    Yes if you leave earlier you’ll be a year closer to the coveted “2nd Deal,” but you’ll make more per year over the 3 years if you increase your stock. Plus, you’ll have a lot better chance of getting shunned to the G-League where that 2nd Deal is out of reach (the G-League fear is more for players going 15th or later).

    https://basketball.realgm.com/nba/info/rookie_scale



    • IAmTheDanger
      1:56 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      Good stuff!



    • madarchitect
      2:21 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      Alex Poythress



    • VulcanEar
      5:22 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      I mean, it’s still millions available JG Wentworth style. Yeah, they can almost double it but who knows what will or can happen. If you’re good, take the money and earn a bigger contact. Top picks usually go to not so great teams and are thrown in immediately, too. Go somewhere that allows you to progress and still get paid millions? Doesn’t sound like a difficult decision.



    • ukkatzfan
      6:10 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      How much of that can be recouped in getting a second contract one year earlier ?



  2. runningunnin.454
    1:43 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

    I still think these people are nuts. SGA can’t shoot well enough from outside, and he won’t be able to drive into the lane against two 7 footers.
    Kevin can’t play guard, and he can’t bang with the big boys in the NBA.
    More experience for both guys can change all that; but, they’re just not ready…and if they were my sons, my council would be to stay in school. The NBA will wait, and a brief flash of cash won’t last.



    • IAmTheDanger
      2:01 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      A lot (if not all) of the guys who have been at UK and left early have said that the best time off their lives was playing ball at UK. They talk about the fans being like none other, the bonds with the other players, etc. Even Daniel Orton was quoted as saying his best times were at UK and he couldn’t get out there fast enough. They only have this limited time of their life to enjoy college ball…why rush it if you don’t have to.



    • SuperTroy18
      2:18 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      Absolutely. Even sure thing prospects like Cousins and AD said when they looked back, they weren’t ready to leave. Cousins said he wished he had gone back for a second season because he was so miserable his rookie year in Sacramento. Davis said he physically wasn’t even close to being strong enough to compete with NBA bigs. Coming from those two, how could you even consider leaving unless you are absolutely SURE you are physically and mentally ready?!



    • ClutchCargo
      2:21 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      By the same token, they only have a limited time to earn money playing basketball and it could all be taken away at any moment in the event of a serious injury. So it’s possible to look back longingly to the college days, while also realizing it made sense to make the jump when they did. And yes, there were some guys who only saw the dollar signs and didn’t listen to the voice of reason when it was telling them they should stay in school.



    • J-Dub421
      2:27 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      Dajuan Wagner is the other side of this argument though. He was a one-and-done at Memphis under Cal, went to the NBA and had health issues. If Wagner hadn’t left school when he did, he likely would have made no money professionally due to health issues. There is risk involved either way.



    • rabblerabblerabble
      3:27 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      That is a great point, J-Dub.



    • chief_cat
      5:30 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      Great point J-Dub and I have to believe that Dujuan is always in the back of Cal’s mind when he counsels players on staying or leaving. No one wants to be the guy who talked a kid into staying and costs him millions, especially Cal.



  3. Powell43
    1:59 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

    Knox is gone – spend you time more wisely. Good lord.



    • BBNDan7
      2:57 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      Commenting for possible later use



    • BigBlueMeade
      3:11 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      ^ lol Dan



  4. Lip Man 1
    2:03 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

    Because these guys feel they have a chance to make a lot of $$$$$.

    Also the story that talked about Alexander said he helped UK get to the “Elite Eight”. We can only wish that happened.



  5. knowitall
    2:09 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

    I am a big fan of UK, always have been. I still do not understand for the life of me how some”fans” can honestly say some of these kids should come back to school if they are locks to be taken in the first round. On this years team there are two, Knox and Alexander. They should both go and in a hurry! Don’t look back. Take the money and run, You can finish school anytime. You only get an opportunity to be a millionaire may be once in your life, especially if you come back and get hurt. If you are guaranteed first rounder, your nuts if you don’t go.



    • Smyrna_Cat
      2:14 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      I think even Knox and Alexander can significantly improve there games if they come back. Knox is very young, and another year in the weight room, and practicing/playing with Cal has to help his basketball IQ. Shai is very thin and needs to get stronger and more physical. It isn’t about just getting to the NBA, it is also about being prepared … and having a long, successful career.



    • BallDontLie
      2:35 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      Yea because they dont lift weights in the nba. You dont think they should come back, you just wish they would, which is fine, but dont try to say its so they can mature and put on weight.

      The fact we are having to wait to find out if anyone besides shai and kevin are coming back is absolutely an issue for this program. Other top programs arent losing guys early to australia or europe.



    • Bourbon and Blue
      2:34 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      I think Knox can gain a lot from coming back, but I dont see Shai’s stock getting any higher than it is now.



    • runningunnin.454
      3:08 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      Just some honest differences of opinion here. I would hope none of us are so shallow as to just wish and hope they return so we have them on the team next year.
      However, you go to college to prepare for your career…took me 11 years, so they don’t have to face that.
      Basically, be ready…what’s the hurry? Some of the best players I saw in person were Dan Issel, Pete Maravich, and Travis Grant. They were all NBA ready after one year; but, they stayed 4 years…and the first year was a wash because freshman couldn’t play on the varsity.



    • Catuary
      6:43 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      I’m absolutely that shallow. I’m happy that guys get to make millions in the NBA, but I don’t watch the NBA. I watch college basketball and root for Kentucky. Cal might be “players first” and I’m sure that helps with recruiting, but I’m unabashedly “UK first”.



  6. knowitall
    2:16 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

    Wrong, it has nothing to do with being prepared or not. It is about making the cash when it is available.



    • runningunnin.454
      2:29 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      It is about being prepared. A doctor can’t open a practice after a year or two of medical school…you have to be ready. At least they’re not looking at 10-11 years.
      Yeah, you can get some money up front; but, you can still wash out and languish in the G League or overseas.
      Two or three NBA level players didn’t lose to K-State.
      The first college player I remember to leave school early for pro ball was Johnny Neumann of Ole MIss. He was called that greatest ball player since Pete Maravich, and he did play a few year in the ABA and NBA;but ended up overseas.



    • VulcanEar
      5:24 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      JG Wentworth… “It’s my money and I want it now!” Can’t blame these kids one bit. We’d ALL leave our jobs for $50k more a year, much less millions.



  7. knowitall
    2:23 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

    And next years draft class is stronger. What happens if they come back, don’t improve or improve just marginally? instead of being a 12-20 pick they slide to end of first round if not second round. That is why you take the money when it is there.



    • ukcamel
      4:28 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      This is a common but also pretty non-convincing argument. Honestly no one has any real idea of the relative strength of this year and next year’s draft (or any other draft) – even the NBA front offices that spend loads of money to find out (and they don’t share this information) are really still just guessing.



  8. NUM1UKFANFROMTHEVILLE
    2:28 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

    Shai will learn on the fly in the NBA. Nothing wrong with that while making money and having NBA training. Plus he believes he was one and done already. I say lottery leave no matter what. The league is soft and how Shai can draw fouls and hit free throws and guard multiple positions, that alone will let him stick. He’ll find his J work in a few yrs. Knox has to get tougher and play lower on d and use his wingspan more, which I think he could benefit with another yr. But @ 13, he should leave too. And a little error on the Shai quote. He only led us to the sweet sixteen



  9. chrisg18
    2:57 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

    There is a difference between being ready and just making a smart business decision. None of these guys are ready. If guys only went when they were ready, you would rarely have any freshmen or even sophomores go. That’s not the decision though. It makes too much sense for Shai to go. He’s got to go this year. Knox is more of a bubble decision, even though he will probably go. But would not shock me at all if he came back, and it would make sense. However, even though these 2 guys will go first round, neither will see much, if any, time in the NBA next year. G league all year, and maybe their second year too. They are a ways away from contributing to a NBA roster.

    Hami as the 35th best prospect overall is laughable. He should be borderline to even be drafted.



    • BigBlueMeade
      3:16 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      If a team drafts a guy in the lottery they are not paying them 3.5-5 mil a year to go to the G League. Monk at Charlotte showed us that. They might not play but will not be sent to play a full season or 2 to begin their NBA careers. You sit them on the end of the NBA bench and have them learn. If they dont pan out then they go G League. Lottery picks dont just go straight to G League.



  10. knowitall
    3:03 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

    A doctor has nothing to do with the game of basketball. Not even close in comparison. And yes they may wash out, but guess what, they still have more money than they would have otherwise. And can still go back to school. There is no logical agruement for turning down first round money if you are pretty much guaranteed to be a first rounder.



    • 4everUKblue
      3:19 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      Agreed. I would bet that everyone of those posting comments about how players guaranteed first round money should come back would take the money and run.



    • runningunnin.454
      3:28 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      But where does this guarantee come from…espn and cbs sportswriters? By the time they find out, it’s too late, and the ncaa says they can’t come back to school…and play.



  11. knowitall
    3:36 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

    What are you talking about? if everyone from cbs, espn, to NBA GM’s to the combine is telling you that you are indeed first round worthy, espeically top 20 worthy, then you go pro and never think twice. Most everyone knows by decision time who is and isn’t going first round and to act like they don’t is nonsense.



    • runningunnin.454
      3:48 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

      We obviously have a difference of opinion in this case. We’re not talking about Cousins, Wall, AD, and KAT; we’re talking about 2-3 players that at times struggled against mediocre competition.
      But, if they go…I hope you’re right.



  12. knowitall
    4:12 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

    Yes it is all opinions. But again it doesn’t matter if they struggled or are ready or prepared. None of that matters, all that matters is that guaranteed money. I can promise you if someone had guaranteed any of us that kind of money to drop out of school for whatever profession we would have done it. Guess what, if it turned out we sucked and got fired we got enough money to go back to school and finish up and not worry about anything.



  13. lexslamman
    4:34 pm March 28, 2018 Permalink

    I think this should be primarily a financial decision. If you or your family needs the money, go pro. If you don’t, stay and get a low-cost degree to back up on just in case the NBA career doesn’t pan out. I don’t think any less of guys who choose to go pro for financial reasons, I probably would do the same if I were in their shoes, and I think many commenters are being insensitive to the situations these young people find themselves in.