Kentucky basketball star Tyler Herro’s NBA Draft stock rises

It’s looking more and more like UK freshman Tyler Herro will have a clear path to the NBA Draft after this season, if he wants to turn pro after just one year in Lexington.

ESPN updated its mock draft Tuesday — just before the start of the NCAA Tournament — and Herro was among the biggest risers on its list of prospects.

Fellow UK players PJ Washington and Keldon Johnson have been included in ESPN’s mock draft all season, and they checked in at No. 13 and No. 15 overall, respectively, in Tuesday’s update.

Herro wasn’t too far behind them.

The Wisconsin native is now the No. 20 overall player in ESPN’s mock draft, putting him safely into first-round territory as he continues to trend higher in the rankings. Herro was No. 27 on ESPN’s most recent list of top 100 NBA Draft prospects for 2019 — released a couple of weeks ago — and he was No. 40 in the previous update to that list back in January.

Scott Van Pelt interviewed ESPN draft analyst Mike Schmitz about the new mock draft on SportsCenter, asking Schmitz for one player in the NCAA Tournament who “could elevate his stock to such a place where there’s just no way he could possibly go back” to college for another season.

“Tyler Herro is the name that I could see climbing, potentially, even to the late lottery,” Schmitz said. “He’s had monster games. He’s been arguably Kentucky’s most valuable player this season. So I look him for him to have a huge tournament. Really, really high on Tyler Herro.”

Herro is averaging 14.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game for the Wildcats this season, shooting 37.3 percent from three-point range. He has scored in double figures in 13 of the Cats’ last 14 games and has started all 33 games at Kentucky this season.

Johnson, Washington and Herro were the only UK players listed in ESPN’s new mock draft. Freshman point guard Ashton Hagans has also been mentioned as a possible one-and-done player, but he was absent from Tuesday’s mock draft update. Hagans is the No. 41 overall player on ESPN’s most recent top 100 list of prospects, which would put him in mid-second round territory in the draft. No other UK players are on that top 100 list.

The Cats start NCAA play against Abilene Christian on Thursday night.

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