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Kentucky has the Top NBA Draft Prospects in the NCAA Tournament

For a certain audience, the NCAA Tournament is a gateway to see who will be the next household names in the NBA. The stars of March can parlay that success into a big payday at the NBA Draft. While ranking the best prospects in this year’s NBA Draft, you’ll never believe it when I tell you this, but Kentucky has the best of the bunch.

John Calipari has coached 35 first round draft picks at the University of Kentucky. That number is expected to grow in June. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo ranked the top 50 pro prospects in the NCAA Tournament and the top two are Wildcats, Rob Dillingham and Reed Sheppard.

Dillingham takes the top spot in this exercise. In the most recent ESPN NBA Mock Draft, Dillingham pairs with Victor Wembanyama in San Antonio as the third overall pick and first American college basketball player off the board.

Reed and Rob aren’t the only talented NBA Draft prospects on Kentucky’s roster. While ranking NBA Draft prospects in the NCAA Tournament, seven of them play for John Calipari: Zvonimir Ivisic (No. 33), Antonio Reeves (No. 32), Ugonna Onyenso (No. 25), DJ Wagner (No. 19), and Justin Edwards (No. 13).

Big Z’s decision is intriguing. He can no longer test the NBA Draft waters. Inconsistent during his shortened season, a big March could go a long way for the Croatian Sensation. At one point in the preseason, some considered Edwards the top pick in the 2024 NBA draft. The talented wing from Pennsylvania has the most to prove this March.

“Edwards started the season as a projected top-10 pick, but saw his stock crater amid poor play in the first three months of Kentucky’s campaign. Since February, Edwards has rebounded in a major way, shooting 47% for 3 and looking like the game has slowed down for him,” writes Givony.

“It will be interesting to see what version we will get this weekend after a lackluster performance in the SEC tournament. Edwards’ ballhandling, defense and overall feel for the game are still concerns, and he doesn’t have extreme youth to fall back on like many freshmen (he turned 20 in December), so finding a way to finish the season on a positive note will be important to build momentum going into the pre-draft process.”

ESPN: Top 50 NBA Draft Prospects in the NCAA Tournament

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