3 Kentucky NBA Draft prospects who can rise or fall in the SEC Tournament

Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham weren't the two highest-rated recruits in Kentucky's 2023 freshman class, but after one season coming off the bench, the backcourt duo will cement themselves as NBA lottery picks in the SEC Tournament.

Kentucky Wildcats guards Rob Dillingham (0) and Reed Sheppard (15)
Kentucky Wildcats guards Rob Dillingham (0) and Reed Sheppard (15) / Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports
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player. Reed Sheppard, G. 1. Reed Sheppard. . Freshman. 6'3" 187 lbs. Reed Sheppard, G. . 528

Reed Sheppard, the Kentucky legacy, was the afterthought of Calipari’s 2023 recruiting class, at least as far as NBA scouts were concerned. Well now, he’s going as high as No. 1 overall in NBA mock drafts, which would put him in the company of Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Davis, and John Wall. 

Sheppard still isn’t starting, again because of whatever handshake deal was struck between Wagner and Calipari, but he enters into the game at almost the first possible moment for Kentucky and makes the most of his minutes on the floor. At 6-foot-3, Sheppard would have tremendous value in the NBA as just a knock-down shooter at 52.6% from three on 4.4 attempts per game, and an athletic, handsy, defender, averaging 2.5 steals and 0.7 blocks, but the best part of his game may be his passing. 

Sheppard could easily run a team at the next level as a gregarious point guard with an elite outside stroke, and if Calipari leans on him in the SEC Tournament, as he should, then Sheppard will lock himself into the top 3 in the 2024 NBA Draft. If Cal hands him the keys to the offense, then Sheppard could have an SEC Tourney MVP run like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in 2018.

Sorry Kentucky fans, those hometown ties won’t be strong enough to keep this nepo-baby in Lexington.

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