The NBA Draft is now complete and Kentucky had four players that took their chances to hopefully hear their names called by the NBA Commissioner. Cason Wallace, Chris Livingston, Jacob Toppin, and Oscar Tshiebwe were the individuals looking to become professional basketball players on Thursday night, but only two of them were selected in the draft.
Cason Wallace, the expected top pick of the now former Cats, was chosen as the 10th overall pick by the Dallas Mavericks, in which the draft rights were traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Cason will join Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and play under head coach Mark Daigneault in the sooner state. While he was project by many outlets to go around the fifteenth pick range, he was taken surprisingly earlier with no complaints, in the top-ten.
The first round concluded, thirty picks were in and out of the door, with still just one Cat being taken off the board and three remaining after half of the night had passed by. Chris Livingston, the next expected Cat to be chosen, seemed to already have a spot locked up by his agency Klutch Sports, which many believed to be with the Lakers at the 47th pick. That pick unfortunately came and passed him up, pushing him to becoming the very last pick of the draft at 58th overall, to the Milwaukee Bucks.
While having so much potential, Chris didn't do a whole lot during his time at Kentucky. His averages were not even close to what a draft pick should have, but when you're under the agency that he is, that was proven last night that it was all that you really needed. Through connections and favors, they worked up a draft spot for him as promised. I'm happy for the kid, but he definitely needed another year in college and that's not an unpopular opinion by any means. But if they were able to pull it off, wouldn't you do the same? You can't fault him at all for it...
The draft of course concludes with just 2 Wildcats taken and two still left awaiting an opportunity. Jacob Toppin and Oscar Tshiebwe both were rumored to get picked up on undrafted free agent deals shortly after the event, which ultimately worked themselves out throughout the night. Jacob Toppin was the first one, being offered a two-way deal with the New York Knicks, joining his older brother in the Big Apple and accepting his first professional contract.
Jacob made three, leaving just Big O still available. As the sun rose the following morning, he still had no official contract signed. While many teams had hosted him for workouts and and many more reached out to him through phone calls and FaceTime, he still did not have a team to call his new home.
Hours go by, lunch passes, and then right around 3:30 pm the online reports started to appear. As everyone got the Shams alert, it happened. He had found his chance that he spent years working for. The Indiana Pacers had offered Oscar a two-way deal.
Less than twenty four hours after draft night, all four are approaching NBA paychecks despite just two of the group actually getting drafted. All but one starter from last season (Antonio Reeves) had "graduated" on to the next level, joining the other UK alumni that are headlining the league. Cason joined Shai, Jacob joined Immanuel Quickley and Julius Randle, and Oscar joined Isaiah Jackson. Chris Livingston became the only current Kentucky product to sign into the Bucks' organization.
I sure will miss this group, but in the end, it all worked out.