1. How many combined 1st round picks do Duke and Kentucky have?
Entering the year, there was a decent amount of buzz pertaining to just how good Duke’s haul of five-star freshmen could be. But so far, Wendell Moore Jr. has played like he’s one of the youngest members of his class, and Matthew Hurt has struggled due to lacking even average strength for his position. Vernon Carey isn’t a perfect center prospect, but he’s been extremely productive. Kentucky’s crop of freshmen isn’t doing too hot, either, but Maxey’s defense and scoring potential are still there, even if the efficiency isn’t thus far. We’re probably going to see Maxey go in the lottery with Carey sneaking into the end of the first round, along with sophomore floor general Tre Jones. So, three.
Duke and Kentucky are typically powerplants for NBA prospects but this year they have less talent than usual. Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey and Duke’s Vernon Carey are the only two guys I feel confident will for sure be first-rounders (I’m not even that big of a Carey fan). From there, it’s a hodgepodge of players that could maybe see the late first round. For Kentucky, Ashton Hagans and Kahlil Whitney have an outside chance while Tre Jones, Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore have similar odds for Duke. With a ton of national exposure, players on both teams will have a chance to boost their stock and I could see a good NBA team in the late 20’s secure a solid back-up guard in Jones or Hagans. So I’ll go with three, but I think two is more likely than four.
Odd as it is to say, with where we’re at right now I see two first-round locks between Duke and Kentucky: Vernon Carey (Duke) and Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky). This year isn’t like years past for these two programs, they don’t have the usual standout studs like we’ve seen before. Perhaps even stranger is that this draft is not particularly strong, so it would make sense if Duke and Kentucky had more guys standing out but right now they don’t. There are some guys I would keep an eye on as having a chance to reach first-round status (Tre Jones, Ashton Hagans, Cassius Stanley, Khalil Whitney) but as of now Carey and Maxey should be the two and only sure-fire bets for round one status.
Three. I think Maxey is the only Kentucky guy that’s a lock and Carey is the only Duke guy that’s a lock. I’d guess Tre Jones gets into the first round as well but that’s no guarantee.