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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Tuesday / October 16.
  • Kentucky’s roster remains in flux heading into NBA Draft Combine

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    Few teams have as much at stake heading into this week’s NBA Draft Combine and its aftermath as Kentucky.

    The Wildcats are one of just two schools — Duke is the other — with five players invited to the CombineHamidou Diallo, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox, Jarred Vanderbilt and P.J. Washington. 

    Gilgeous-Alexander (No. 12), Knox (No. 15) and Diallo (No. 40) are all signing with agents and expected to be drafted according to ESPN.com.

    Vanderbilt, Washington and sophomore Wenyen Gabriel (who worked out Saturday for the Utah Jazz) are all testing the NBA Draft process without agents. Sophomore Sacha Killeya-Jones is transferring.

    If Kentucky gets some combination of Vanderbilt, Washington and Gabriel back — along with an incoming recruiting class of Immanuel Quickley, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro, E.J. Montgomery and potentially Ashton Hagans if he reclassifies — they could be especially dangerous in 2018-19. When Kentucky won its last title in 2012, it had a mix of one-and-dones like Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and “older” players like Doron Lamb, Terrence Jones and Darius Miller.

    Kansas and reigning NCAA champion Villanova, which each have four guys at the Combine, also figure to be among next year’s top teams depending on who returns. Duke, which brings in the No. 1 recruiting class in 2018 led by R.J. Barrett, will also be projected among the top teams next season.

    “Let’s assume P.J. Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt come back, along with this excellent recruiting class, which looks like it could be added to if [Hagans] comes, what you have is the silver lining of an average one-and-done class by their standards that’s going to return as sophomores and will meld with another very good incoming freshman class,” ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla said by phone this week.

    “It bodes well for Kentucky to have some veteran players even if they’re going to be sophomores.”

    P.J. has reportedly worked out for the Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, Milwaukee Bucks and the L.A. Clippers ahead of the Combine.

    “He was solid, shot it well,” one source close to Minnesota said. “It’s probably too early to know if he’ll be at our pick at 20.”

    Washington’s father is on record saying his son will remain in the draft if he gets a first-round guarantee.

    “It’s real simple — if he’s guaranteed a first round pick, then he’ll stay in the draft,” Paul Washington said. “If he doesn’t get that, we’ll have to make a decision. It’s PJ’s decision. Now, if he doesn’t get a first-round guarantee and a team says he’ll be an early second round pick, then PJ might say he wants to do that. That’s his decision as well. But the easiest thing is if he gets a guarantee in writing that he’ll go in the first round.”

    Washington, Vanderbilt and Gabriel have until May 30 to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

    “I would think that the key guy coming back is going to be P.J.,” Fraschilla said. “He’s an undersized four man who can contine to get better and maybe improve his skill somewhat.”

     

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.