Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, named MVP of the SEC Tournament, could be the first Kentucky player selected in the NBA draft come June.
That top spot has long been reserved for freshman forward Kevin Knox, even before the season started. And while most outlets still have Knox as the first Kentucky player off the board, two mock drafts say Gilgeous-Alexander will hear his name called first.
The freshman point guard averaged 21 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds in Kentucky’s three SEC Tournament games. Now, Gilgeous-Alexander and the Cats head to Boise, Idaho, as the No. 5 seed in the South Region.
Here’s where Gilgeous-Alexander, Knox and fellow NBA draft prospects Hamidou Diallo and Jarred Vanderbilt project in mock drafts.
SF/PF Kevin Knox: 6-foot-9, 215 pounds (Fr.)
“Sporting the worst defense in the NBA, the Suns will surely be looking to add more size, length, athleticism and versatility at every position,” wrote Jonathan Givony of ESPN. “Knox was inconsistent this season on that end of the floor, but as the second-youngest player in the draft, that’s not all that surprising. His ability to stretch the floor, make plays in the open court and theoretically guard either forward spot is attractive in today’s NBA.”
PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: 6-6, 180 pounds (Fr.)
“Gilgeous-Alexander has the size, length, defensive prowess and unselfishness needed to operate as a role player alongside a variety of different types of guards,” wrote Givony. “His offense has made significant strides as the season has moved on, helping him surprisingly emerge as arguably Kentucky’s best top long-term prospect.”
SG Hamidou Diallo: 6-5, 198 pounds (R-Fr.)
“Earlier in the season, he was seen as a potential lottery pick because of his quick-twitch athleticism, length and track record in high school,” wrote Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. “But he’s been awful instinctual in college so far and has not done enough in half-court settings to bring value to the table.”
SF Jarred Vanderbilt: 6-9, 214 pounds (Fr.)
“There’s a lot to be disappointed by in Vanderbilt’s injury-shortened season,” wrote Reid Forgrave of CBS Sports. “What you should never be disappointed by is his motor or athleticism. Vanderbilt is going to be able to make a living off being a gifted athlete who loves to hustle. It will be fascinating to see if he can add to that.”