Within the past 24 hours we’ve seen the top two players, arguably, on the University of Kentucky declare for the NBA Draft in guards Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagans. Both backcourt stars are not testing the waters, they’re in the draft to stay.
And you got to like their chances of not just being drafted, but also making it big in the league given the UK track record in this arena. If you look at the basketball betting odds, chances are that you’ll see the favored team with a squad that contains at least a couple former UK Wildcats. In fact, players who were coached by John Calipari in college have earned $2.2 billion in NBA contracts.
That’s billion with a B and $1.9 billion of that came from the University of Kentucky alone. That’s more than the GDP of the entire nation of Belize.
Regarding Maxey, ESPN ranks him as the #8 overall prospect on their big board, with most scouts and draftniks believing he’s a top ten overall pick.
“This year getting to rep Kentucky across my chest was everything I could have imagined,” Maxey said in a statement that went out earlier this morning.
“I got to play for a Hall of Famer, be pushed every day by the best coaches in the country, compete alongside great teammates and work with a support staff that is the gold standard – just like Coach Cal promised.
“Even though I didn’t get a chance to compete for my ultimate goal, this season was everything I signed up for. I know I’m a better player and man for embracing the challenge of playing for Kentucky.
“It’s time for my next challenge though. My dream has always been to play in the NBA and I know I’m prepared for this because I’m Wildcat made.”
Maxey averaged 14.0 points per game, 4.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game this past season, shooting 42.7% from the field and recording 33 three point field goals.
As for Hagans, he saw his totals in points, rebounds, steals and assists increase this season over his freshman campaign. He’s projected by most draft experts and scouts to be a mid-second rounder, with perhaps an early second round/very late first round grade at best.
“When I chose to come back for my sophomore year, I had some goals in mind,” the floor general said in a statement yesterday afternoon.
“First was to win a national championship. You know it’s killing me that we didn’t get the chance to compete for one this season, but I understand why we couldn’t. But, just know, we would have been right there. The second thing we did, which was to win an SEC championship. I also wanted to become a better all-around point guard.”
“I just wanted to let you all know that even though I love Kentucky with all of my heart and really wish I could have played for a ‘ship, it’s time for me to live out my life-long dream and declare for the NBA Draft.”
“It’s been my No. 1 goal since I first picked up a ball to take this step and I know my time is now. It’s so hard for me to say goodbye to the best fans in the world, because these last two years have been some of the best of my life.
The 6-3 point guard averaged 11.5 points, 6.4 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game this past season. Two teammates of Hagans and Maxey, Nick Richards and Immanuel Quickley, are expected to enter the NBA Draft before too long.
To see where he have all these Wildcats/former Wildcats in our latest NBA mock draft, go to this link.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation.