9:09:23 MBB vs. TN

Kentucky freshman guard Tyrese Maxey walks away from the huddle during the game against Tennessee on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Tennessee won 81-73. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Every year, the NBA Draft causes all sorts of discussion on who the top pick should be used on. There has not been this much discourse over the number one spot since the rumor of Patrick Ewing and the Frozen Envelope.

With Memphis’ James Wiseman, Georgia’s Anthony Edwards and the ABL’s LaMelo Ball all proving worthy of being the first overall selection, it will make for an interesting draft night.

Although this year’s top spot will not be a Wildcat, UK is expected to have three or four players picked during the event. Here is what you should know on the top Cat prospects.

Tyrese Maxey

The consensus best available of Kentucky’s player pool, 19-year-old combo guard Tyrese Maxey is an expected Top-20 pick with the potential to sneak into the back end of the lottery. Maxey is explosive; he uses this speed and athleticism to attack the paint aggressively, but with finesse and without fear.

Although he mainly operated at point guard in Lexington, he projects as more of a slashing shooting guard in the league. Teams believe he would be more successful in that niche as opposed to being the ringleader of an offense.

His three-point shooting could cause his stock to take a bit of a hit – just 29% from behind-the-arc at UK– but many draft analysts have said he is better there than his numbers indicate.

Either way, what he may lack in outside shooting, he makes up for with length and physicality on defense. A fast, physical guard who has the size and ability to keep up with players at the next level, Maxey could turn out to be a mid-first round steal for whichever team he falls to.

CBS: Round 1/Pick 19- Brooklyn Nets

ESPN: Round 1/Pick 12- San Antonio Spurs

Sports Illustrated: Round 1/Pick 16- Portland Trail Blazers

NBA Draft Room: Round 1/Pick 20- Miami Heat

 

Immanuel Quickley

Following some very impressive pre-draft workouts, sharpshooting point guard Immanuel Quickley’s draft stock has risen in recent weeks. With splits of 42/43/92 last season, the reigning SEC Player of the Year’s efficiency from all areas – particularly from three-point range and at the free-throw line – is exactly what NBA teams are looking for in 2020.

Originally expected to go very late in round two, it wouldn’t be too shocking if Quickley went off the board toward the beginning of the second round.

While his primary offensive skill fits perfectly in the modern league, some teams may be wary of him. Analysts with major concerns about his ability to match up defensively and distribute the ball have him projected toward the latter portion of selections.

That said, his consistent stroke from outside offers hope in today’s game. Quickley is a good size guard with a lot of potential as a shooter. If he can develop on the defensive end, he can potentially turn into a solid yet undersized “3-and-D” option. Otherwise, he could fill a Kyle Korver-esque role.

CBS: Round 2/Pick 53- Sacramento Kings

ESPN: Round 2/Pick 58- Toronto Raptors

NBA Draft Room: Round 2/Pick 41- San Antonio Spurs

Sports Illustrated: Round 2/Pick 38- New York Knicks

Nick Richards

For Nick Richards, getting drafted is no guarantee. The Jamaican product shapes up as a late selection or undrafted free agent that will again have to prove himself.

As an almost unheard-of three-year player for Coach Cal, Richards had a breakout 2019-2020. He silenced many critics by averaging 14 points a game on 65% shooting while pulling in eight boards and swatting away two shots per contest.

At 6-foot-11, 250 pounds, Richards certainly has the size to compete at the next level. Worries over his pick-and-roll defense combined with his slower-than-typical-Kentucky development have his draft stock capped in the last ten picks.

Even after his junior improvement, Richards has a lot of room to grow. He’s the sort of low risk/high reward player you see selected in the draft’s final stages or signed shortly after its conclusion. A team that can develop him properly could be getting a bargain.

CBS: Undrafted

ESPN: Round 2/Pick 57- Los Angeles Clippers

NBA Draft Room: Undrafted

Sports Illustrated: Round 2/Pick 56- Charlotte Hornets

Ashton Hagans

Hagans has the drive and the competitiveness necessary to be solid in the NBA. He’s the best assist man of the Kentucky prospects; he dropped six dimes with four rebounds per game as a sophomore.

His main mark was made defensively, where he totaled two steals per game and was a constant pest in the face of some of the nation’s best point guards.

Like his former teammates, Hagans isn’t without flaws. His three-point shooting woes and turnover rate have his stock limited to the final segment of the draft, but his passing and defensive ability could garner him a late slot.

CBS: Undrafted

ESPN: Round 2/Pick 53- Sacramento Kings

NBA Draft Room: Round 2/Pick 57- Los Angeles Clippers

Sports Illustrated: Round 2/Pick 57- Los Angeles Clippers

E.J. Montgomery and Khalil Whitney also declared for the draft, but are not expected to be selected by most major prediction services.

The 2020 NBA Draft airs Wednesday, Nov. 18 on ESPN, starting at 8:00 p.m.