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4-Point Play: What we know ahead of the draft withdrawal deadline

Jack PIlgrimby:Jack Pilgrim05/28/24

We are just a hair beyond the 24-hour mark of the 2024 NBA Draft withdrawal deadline, scheduled for Wednesday, May 29 at 11:59 p.m. ET. It’s a crucial day for players still deciding whether to pull their names out and return to college or keep them in and pursue their professional dreams for good.

Kentucky, as you well know by now, is in the middle of a few crucial stay/go decisions, the Wildcats counting down the clock just like the rest of us. Mark Pope and his coaching staff have pushed their chips in on some talent capable of moving the needle by a postseason round or two, adding to a core group already seen as a competitor in the SEC.

What do you need to know ahead of that crucial deadline? Let’s dig in tonight on 4-Point Play.

All eyes on Jaxson Robinson

There isn’t a more important decision for Pope and the Wildcats than his former BYU star, who is choosing between keeping his name in the draft as a potential second-round pick or returning to school for a fifth and final season of college basketball, Kentucky and Kansas seen as the top contenders to land his commitment in that scenario with another run in Provo under new head coach Kevin Young also potentially on the table. It’s a two-step process that has to come in order, his pro decision coming first ahead of Wednesday’s midnight deadline, followed by a school pick should it get to that point.

How are we looking on part one? ESPN has him listed as the No. 66 overall available draft process in this cycle, eight spots outside of the second round. CBS Sports’ David Cobb lists Robinson as the fourth-best player in the draft with a stay/go decision left to make, now third following JT Toppin’s commitment to Texas Tech and ensuing withdrawal. He’s ranked No. 74 overall on that Big Board. Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman is the highest on the BYU transfer among reputable intel-driven mock drafts, listing him at No. 49 overall.

The back half of the second round to undrafted appears to be the consensus heading into the final day of workouts and interviews — no late-first or early-second jump as hoped.

All it takes is one promise, though, especially for a graduate senior who will be 22 in December. He’s weighing that possibility vs. a lucrative NIL payout with a bigger platform capable of raising his stock in one last run. The schools involved are in the dark regarding the toss-up decision that will be made official on Wednesday.

Other names to monitor

Where does Kentucky turn if Robinson keeps his name in the draft or opts to play elsewhere for his fifth season — the former scenario seen as more likely than the latter? The Wildcats remain in contact with Miami standout Wooga Poplar and a visit is in the works, his father tells KSR, adding that Oregon and Arkansas will also receive trips should he withdraw, as expected. That comes after a visit to Villanova back on May 16.

Should the Wildcats miss on both, 2025 five-star wing Will Riley is a player Pope would take whenever he is ready to come, the native of Ontario mulling a potential reclass to 2024. Kentucky joins Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas and the NBL as finalists in his recruitment.

Other portal names remain available should they pull their names out of the draft by Wednesday at midnight, namely the likes of Minnesota’s Cam Christie, Washington State’s Jaylen Wells, Eastern Washington’s Cedric Coward and Arkansas’ Trevon Brazile. International possibilities are essentially endless, as well, while a number of reclass moves pop up every summer.

Robinson, Poplar and Riley are the core trio, but it’s hard to envision a scenario where Pope is left empty-handed in his pursuit of a top scoring threat with so many other options available.

A trio of Wildcats officially withdraw

It wasn’t a surprise, but the reassurance is always appreciated, three different Kentucky signees withdrawing from the 2024 NBA Draft and returning to school to suit up for the Wildcats in 2024-25.

Drexel transfer Amari Williams was the first off the board while San Diego State’s Lamont Butler and Wake Forest’s Andrew Carr going back-to-back from there. All three are prized additions for Pope in Lexington, the former duo seen among the best defenders the portal had to offer this cycle while the latter is a versatile sniper at the four position.

Pope had the following to say about all three upon their respective signings:

  • Williams: “He is bringing a big presence to the game and is going to serve as a rim-protector and rebounder. Amari is a gifted defensive player who can switch onto any position, one through five, which will add security to how everybody else feels on the court.”
  • Butler: “(He) is the definition of a winner. He might be the best perimeter defensive player in all of college basketball.”
  • Carr: “(He) is the prototypical college and NBA power forward. He’s incredibly skilled and an elite-level decision-maker.”

Koby Brea is the lone holdout

Three down, one to go among Wildcats signed on for the 2024-25 season who tested the draft waters. Williams, Butler and Carr made their decisions known on Tuesday while Dayton sharpshooter Koby Brea has yet to make an announcement regarding his plans.

The expectation is Brea withdraws from the draft and suits up in blue and white this year, but you never know until you know. He’s still allowed to participate in workouts and interviews all the way up through the midnight deadline on Wednesday, exploring the pro route thoroughly without leaving a stone unturned, if nothing else to learn what he needs to work on ahead of his final season of college basketball.

Among the things he doesn’t need to improve on? Shooting, coming off a season where he knocked down 49.8% of his attempts from three with 100 makes.

“By the numbers, Koby Brea is the most efficient mid-to-high major player in college basketball in the last decade,” Pope said. “He’s the best-returning shooter in college basketball next year. Koby is a dangerous, dangerous man.”

It’s mostly a formality and Big Blue Nation should expect to see the human flamethrower in Lexington this upcoming season. He’s just got to make it official on Wednesday.

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2024-06-20