Projecting Who's Staying, Who's Leaving from Kentucky After NCAA Tournament Loss

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2022

Projecting Who's Staying, Who's Leaving from Kentucky After NCAA Tournament Loss

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    The college basketball world was left absolutely reeling after No. 2 seed Kentucky was stunned by No. 15 Saint Peter's on Thursday 85-79. 

    The result not only ended Kentucky's bid to win a national championship, but it also likely ended the college careers of several players, who will enter their names in the 2022 NBA draft. 

    We know that seniors Davion Mintz and Kellan Grady will be gone. But who else will depart this offseason? 

    Let's break it down. 

Players Likely to Stay

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Keion Brooks Jr., Sahvir Wheeler, Jacob Toppin, Daimion Collins, Dontaie Allen, Bryce Hopkins, Lance Ware, Zan Payne, Brennan Canada, Kareem Watkins

    It's pretty easy to make a determination on why these guys likely will stick around—none have any draft buzz surrounding them. 

    Sam Vecenie of The Athletic didn't list a single one of the above players on his big board, which included 100 total prospects. It's certainly possible one of these players could choose to transfer, but it's hard to imagine any declaring for the draft. 

    A number of players, like Hopkins, Collins and Allen, all have obvious talent but didn't see a ton of playing time this season. The expectation is that they'll push for much larger roles in 2022-23, joining more established players like Brooks, Wheeler and Toppin. 

Players Likely to Leave

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    TyTy Washington Jr., Shaedon Sharpe, Oscar Tshiebwe

    The obvious selection here is Washington, who is being projected as a top-10 pick in this year's draft by multiple experts, including B/R's Jonathan Wasserman, and is absolutely in the running to be a lottery pick. A freshman with his level of natural talent doesn't stick around for long. 

    Sharpe and Tshiebwe are tougher projections. The former is being projected as a top-10 talent in this year's draft despite never playing a second for Kentucky. John Calipari said in February that Sharpe was "committed to bettering himself and our team in practice this year and being better prepared to lead us next season."

    But if Sharpe truly could be a top-10 pick in this year's draft, would he risk potential injury at Kentucky next season, bypassing the security of an NBA contract in the process? It seems unlikely. 

    As for Tshiebwe, the player of the year candidate had a superb junior season, though whether his game translates to the NBA level remains to be seen. At the moment, he looks like a player likely to be a second-round pick, though he could perhaps improve his standing during the predraft process. His 30 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks against Saint Peter's should help his case. 

    Perhaps he feels as though he has business to settle at Kentucky. More than likely, however, he'll take his chances with the draft and should be off the board early in the second round. 

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