Kentucky men’s basketball is still waiting on a trio of decisions that will heavily influence next season’s roster, but one Wildcat has long known his fate. The only question left is where he’ll begin his professional career.
Cason Wallace, who made the SEC All-Freshman Team in 2022-23 for Kentucky, is a projected first-round pick in June’s NBA Draft. He’s been considered a future lottery selection since first arriving in Lexington, but now that we’re less than a month away from the big day, the 6-foot-4 guard is apparently trending downward.
Coming off the heels of the NBA Combine and pro day circuits, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo updated their latest mock draft on Wednesday morning. In it, Wallace dropped five spots from where he landed in the last update from May 16, falling from No. 12 (Oklahoma City Thunder) to No. 17 (Los Angeles Lakers).
Here is what Givony had to say about Wallace.
Wallace measured better than expected at the draft combine but appears to have a bit of a wider range on draft night than other lottery candidates, as some teams don’t view him as a surefire point guard or primary creator and others question his scoring credentials. Still, there aren’t many better defenders in the class than Wallace. His strong dimensions (comparable to multipositional guards like De’Anthony Melton, Bruce Brown and Tyrese Maxey) give him significant versatility to tap into when paired with his excellent instincts and intensity level, especially when surrounded with talent on a playoff team.— ESPN’s Jonathan Givony
Other Kentucky players in the draft mix, Oscar Tshiebwe, Chris Livingston, Antonio Reeves, and Jacob Toppin, were not mentioned among the 58 draft picks. The 2023 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 22 in Brooklyn, NY.
The vast majority of mock drafts leading up to the NBA Draft withdrawal deadline — which is set for May 31 at 11:59 p.m. EST — had Wallace as a consensus top-15 pick. His range was as high as No. 8 (Washington Wizards) and as low as No. 15 (Atlanta Hawks). ESPN is the first major publication to drop Wallace below that threshold.
That being said, teaming up in Los Angeles alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis might not be a bad thing for Wallace. The Lakers also roster Jarred Vanderbilt and Wenyen Gabriel, which would give them the most former Wildcats (four) of any franchise in the league. L.A. is coming off a Western Conference Finals appearance but could have used more backcourt production as point guard D’Angelo Russell struggled throughout the postseason.