A sea of blue is expected in the 2020 NBA Draft with all five starters from the 2019-20 Kentucky Wildcats NCAA basketball team already declaring for the draft.
Immanuel Quickley, Nick Richards, Tyrese Maxey, and Ashton Hagans previously announced they are leaving school early. Then last month, EJ Montgomery added his name to the list.
The Kentucky Wildcats basketball program is one of the breeding ground for future NBA stars. It has produced some of the league’s best players such as Frank Ramsey, Cliff Hagan, Pat Riley, and Dan Issel. Players like Antoine Walker, Tony Delk, Derek Anderson, Jamal Magloire, and Tayshaun Prince also joined the NBA and had successful NBA careers.
Currently, there are too many alumni from the University of Kentucky to mention. But in this article, we’ll be listing down the top Wildcats who are currently playing in the NBA:
1. Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis led the Wildcats to the 2012 NCAA title and won Most Outstanding Player award during the tournament. He was chosen first overall by the New Orleans Hornets in 2012 and was selected to play for the U.S. Men’s Basketball team which won the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics. Davis was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers last summer and he helped the Lakers to the best record in the Western Conference during the 2019-20 season.
2. Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns played one season in Kentucky where he was named SEC Freshman of the Year and was a 2nd team All-American selection. He was drafted first overall in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves and won Rookie of the Year honors in 2016. Towns is a two-time NBA All-Star and a one-time member of the All-NBA Third Team.
3. John Wall
John Wall was SEC Player of the Year in his only season at the University of Kentucky in 2010. He was selected first overall in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards and he finished second to Blake Griffin in the 2011 Rookie of the Year balloting. Wall made five straight All-Star game appearances from 2014-18. His streak ended in 2019 after he missed the season due to injury. Wall is expected to return to action next season.
4. Devin Booker
Devin Booker was Karl-Anthony Towns’ teammate at the University of Kentucky. Booker also played just one season with the Wildcats and he was named SEC Sixth Man of the Year in 2015. He was drafted 13th overall by the Phoenix Suns and has blossomed into a full-fledged star in Phoenix. Booker won the NBA Three-Point contest in 2018 and after a couple of snubs, he finally earned his first All-Star selection in 2020.
5. De’Aaron Fox
De’Aaron Fox is another one-and-gone talent from the University of Kentucky. Fox played for the Wildcats in 2017 where he led the team to the SEC title, winning SEC Tournament MVP honors in the process. After losing in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, he turned pro and was picked 5th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings. Fox finished second to Pascal Siakam in the 2019 Most Improved Player of the Year balloting.
6. Jamal Murray
Jamal Murray was named to the SEC Freshman Team and the All-American 3rd Team during his only season in Kentucky in 2016. He turned pro and was picked 7th overall by the Denver Nuggets in 2016. After making the All-Rookie 2nd team in 2017, he has steadily improved as a shooter and playmaker and is now one of the vital cogs of the Nuggets. Murray averaged 18.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game during the 2019-20 NBA season.
7. Bam Adebayo
Bam Adebayo also played just one season at the University of Kentucky. He was named to the SEC Freshman team and All-SEC 2nd team that year. He chose to turn pro and was drafted by the Miami Heat with the 14th overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft. Adebayo played behind Hassan Whiteside in Miami but after the latter was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers before the 2019-20 season, Adebayo was promoted to the starting line-up and he had a breakout year. He earned his first All-Star selection during the 2019-20 season.
8. Eric Bledsoe
Eric Bledsoe played alongside John Wall during their only year with the Wildcats. He also turned pro in 2010 and was chosen by the Oklahoma City Thunder with the 18th pick of the draft but was traded to the L.A. Clippers. He played three seasons for the Clippers and five seasons with the Phoenix Suns before landing in Milwaukee in 2017. Bledsoe thrived with the Bucks and was rewarded with a contract extension in 2019. He was named to the All-Defensive First Team in 2019.
9. Julius Randle
Julius Randle was the Los Angeles Lakers’ highest draft pick since James Worthy. Randle played one season in Kentucky before the Lakers drafted him 7th overall in 2014. The 2014 SEC Rookie of the Year played four seasons for the Lakers before he signed a two-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2018. Randle played with the Knicks during the 2019-20 season and he averaged 19.5 points and 9.7 rebounds per game during the 2019-20 season.
10. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was the 2018 SEC Tournament MVP and an All-SEC 2nd team selection during his lone season at the University of Kentucky in 2018. He was drafted 11th overall in 2018 by the Charlotte Hornets and was traded on draft day to the Los Angeles Clippers. Gilgeous-Alexander was named to the All-Rookie second team in 2019 but was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder during the offseason for Paul George. He thrived in OKC this season and has become one of its key players.
11. Tyler Herro
Tyler Herro was the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2019 and he was selected by the Miami Heat with the 13th overall pick of the 2019 NBA draft. Herro quickly developed a reputation as one of Miami’s top threats from the three-point area. Herro, fellow rookie Kendrick Nunn, and sophomore Duncan Robinson helped Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Goran Dragic led the Heat back after a poor 2019 season. Miami had the 4th best record in the Eastern Conference when play was halted.
12. Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo played two seasons for the University of Kentucky. He was an under the radar pick at 21st overall by the Phoenix Suns but was traded to the Boston Celtics. Rondo became the starting point guard of the Celtics and he helped the team win its first NBA title in the post-Larry Bird era in 2008. Rondo earned four All-Star selections while playing for Boston and he led the NBA in steals in 2010. Rondo currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers.
13. P.J. Washington
P.J. Washington was named to the All-SEC First Team during his only season with the Wildcats in 2019. He applied for the NBA draft and was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the 12th pick of the 2019 NBA Draft. Washington scored 27 points and made a record seven three-point baskets during his NBA debut. He had a brilliant 2019-20 season and is one of the bright spots for the struggling Hornets team.
14. Malik Monk
Malik Monk won several awards during his lone season with the Wildcats in 2017 and the most notable of those achievements was the 2017 SEC Player of the Year plum. Monk was picked 11th overall in 2017 by the Charlotte Hornets. Monk was steadily improving as a player until he was suspended indefinitely last February 2020 for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
15. Enes Kanter
Enes Kanter signed with the Kentucky Wildcats but he was declared ineligible by the NBA after receiving approximately $33K in benefits from his Turkish professional basketball team. Despite an appeal by the school, he was disallowed to play. He turned pro and was drafted 3rd overall in 2011 by the Utah Jazz. He has since played for Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks, Portland TrailBlazers, and now the Boston Celtics.