Kentucky basketball: Summer League a perfect opportunity for 4 Wildcats

Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

Four former Kentucky basketball Wildcats will take part in the 2023 NBA Summer League. The short developmental season always gives a good first look into how some of the brightest college stars either adjust – or don’t – to the NBA.

In 2023, a handful of former Cats will play in the Summer League.

  • Cason Wallace, Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Jacob Toppin, New York Knicks
  • Chris Livingston, Milwaukee Bucks
  • Oscar Tshiebwe, Indiana Pacers

Summer League begins in Sacramento and Salt Lake City on July 3. The much bigger Las Vegas Summer League tips off on July 7, where all four Kentucky basketball products will compete.

The first look at any of these Wildcats in an NBA jersey will be when Oklahoma City faces Utah on July 3 at 9 p.m. Cason Wallace will look to impress the Thunder coaching staff. Wallace was the 12th overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, so there isn’t any pressure on him to play well to make the team. Instead, it will give Wallace an opportunity to see what life in the NBA is like.

The same can’t be said about the other three former Kentucky basketball standouts. Livingston (58th overall pick), Toppin (undrafted), and Tshiebwe (undrafted) will all be fighting for roster spots. All three can’t just bank on playing well – they will have to really impress their coaches to earn a spot on an NBA team.

The player with the hardest path forward is Tshiebwe. Oftentimes, Summer League and G-League basketball are geared toward guards and players with the ball in their hands at all times. That means Tshiebwe’s activity on the boards – especially on the offensive end – will be pivotal if he is to make a good impression.

Toppin is in the most interesting spot. He’s a native New Yorker, so playing for the hometown Knicks ought to feel cool. The same was true for his brother, Obi Toppin, who the Knicks traded on Saturday after the two sides grew apart. That shouldn’t have too big of an impact on Jacob’s outlook. However, the Knicks are likely trying him out for a G-League spot to begin with.

Finally, Livingston, who was the last pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, will side with the Milwaukee Bucks for Summer League. He’s the rawest player of the Kentucky basketball bunch, and at 19 years old, can use the coming weeks as a good developmental camp.

Summer League is always a fun time to watch your favorite college basketball players in action. It’s important to note that it doesn’t hold all of the who make the roster or are cut. However, it’s still a good way to measure who is more ready for the big leagues than others.