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John Wall Comes In at No. 4 As We Count Down the Top 10 Players From UK Ahead of DraftKings Sportsbook Coming to Kentucky

Jeff Pratt ranks the top 10 NBA Wildcat products. Stay tuned, as a new player in the countdown will be revealed daily!

NCAA Basketball: Division I Championship-Kentucky vs Wake Forest Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Rejoice, Wildcats, Cardinals, Racing Louisville, Kentucky Derby fans and everyone in between! The state of Kentucky is approving mobile sports betting and DraftKings Sportsbook will soon be available for residents. The launch date for the DraftKings Sportsbook App is September 28!

In honor of the upcoming launch, I will be counting down the top 10 NBA players from the University of Kentucky. It will be a little different from our past state launch articles, as this series will serve as a countdown from No. 10 to No. 1. Each day, a new player will be revealed!

These rankings are based on each player’s production IN THE NBA, not in college.


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Top 10 NBA Players from the University of Kentucky

No. 1: Revealed Thursday (KENTUCKY LAUNCH DAY), 9/28

No. 2: Revealed Wednesday, 9/27

No. 3: Revealed Tuesday, 9/26

No. 4: John Wall

NCAA Basketball: SEC Tournament-Mississippi State vs Kentucky Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most popular Kentucky players in program history, Wall was a two-way force in Lexington. The point guard averaged 16.6 points, 6.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game in his only season with the Wildcats, making it to the Elite Eight alongside DeMarcus Cousins before losing to West Virginia.

Wall declared for the 2010 NBA Draft, in which he was selected first overall by the Washington Wizards. The moment he stepped on an NBA court, Wall was one of the most electrifying players in the league.

While he may not have a ring, Wall’s resume includes five All-Star nods, an All-Defensive Second Team appearance and an All-NBA Third Team selection. Over the course of nine seasons in D.C., he established himself as one of the top players in the association.

No. 5: DeMarcus Cousins

NCAA Basketball: SEC Tournament-Mississippi State vs Kentucky Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

DeMarcus Cousins followed John Calipari from Memphis to Kentucky, de-committing from the Tigers to join the Wildcats as a freshman. That decision paid off, as Cousins averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds per game on very efficient shooting splits. The big man and fellow star John Wall led the Wildcats to the Elite Eight before ultimately falling to West Virginia.

Cousins declared for the 2010 NBA Draft, in which he was selected fifth overall by the Sacramento Kings. It didn’t take long for Boogie’s college dominance to translate to the pros, as he averaged well north of 20 points per game in six straight seasons between Sacramento and New Orleans.

An achilles tear in his second season with the Pelicans unfortunately de-railed Cousins’ career, but at his peak he was arguably the best center in the entire NBA.

No. 6: Jamal Murray

LSU v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Fresh off an NBA championship, Jamal Murray checks in as No. 6 on my rankings!

Murray was an offensive force in Lexington, scoring 20.0 points per game, which is the most any freshman has averaged under John Calipari in program history.

After an unfortunate early March Madness exit, Murray declared for the 2016 NBA Draft, in which he was selected seventh overall by the Denver Nuggets. The rookie played a relatively small role in his first NBA season before breaking out in his sophomore campaign, averaging 16.7 points.

Murray continued his upward trajectory, improving every season before an ACL tear put an abrupt halt to things in 2021. The star guard did not play in the entirety of the 2021-22 season, but came back with a vengeance last year, averaging 20 points, six assists and four rebounds per game while shooting just under 40% from three.

Like has has done many times before, “Bubble” Murray took his game to another level in the postseason, helping lead the Nuggets to the franchise’s first NBA title.

While it’s fair to argue that Karl-Anthony Towns is technically the more-talented NBA player, his lack of playoff production compared to Murray’s consistent dominance on the brightest stage made my decision to rank Jamal higher easy.

No. 7: Karl-Anthony Towns

Kentucky v Hampton Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Already one of the greatest shooting big men of all-time, Karl-Anthony Towns had a unique experience in Lexington. During his lone season with the Wildcats in 2014-15, John Calipari utilized a platoon system with his frontcourt rotation, which resulted in KAT playing just 21.1 minutes per game.

Despite his limited role, Towns was still highly touted by scouts, and was selected first overall by the Timberwolves in the 2015 NBA Draft. Minnesota’s gamble paid off, as KAT has been a legitimate star since the moment he entered the pros. Through eight seasons with the team, he has averaged 23 points and 11.2 rebounds per contest while shooting a ridiculous 39.5% from three.

Towns’ talent is indisputable, it’s just hard to justify putting him higher on this list due to his lack of playoff success. The superstar will look to change that this season.

No. 8: Antoine Walker

1996 Final Four

The first player who stayed in Lexington for multiple years makes an appearance! Walker is also the first retired player in these rankings, but he won’t be the last...

Antoine played two seasons for the Wildcats, really finding a rhythm in his sophomore campaign. The forward averaged 15.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game in that second season, helping lead Kentucky to an NCAA title!

Following that successful year, Walker declared for the 1996 NBA Draft and was selected sixth overall by the Celtics. It didn’t take him long to adjust to the pros, as the score-first big averaged 17.5 points right out of the gate.

Walker played seven seasons in Boston, averaging 20-plus points per game in five of them before being traded to the Mavericks in 2003. From there, he bounced around the league a bit, ultimately suiting up for five different franchises. However, he did play a significant role in the Miami Heat’s 2006 championship run, averaging 13.8 points per game in the Finals against Dallas.

Walker officially retired in 2012 following a successful career and a ring, and to this day is beloved in Boston, the city that drafted him.

No. 9: Bam Adebayo

Florida v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Another one-and-done — notice a trend here? — for the Wildcats, Adebayo was a dominant two-way player in his only season in Lexington. The versatile big man averaged 13 points, 10 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game for Kentucky, and his squad ultimately fell to UNC in the Elite Eight.

Adebayo was selected by Miami with the 14th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, and it took him a couple years to develop into the elite big he is today. Bam broke out in his third NBA campaign, averaging 15.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists for the Heat in a significantly expanded role.

Since that season, Adebayo has only continued to improve, as the 26-year-old averaged a career-high 20.4 points per game last year. While he’s more than capable offensively, Bam makes his presence felt on the other side of the ball, boasting four NBA All-Defensive Second Team selections to go along with his pair of All-Star nods.

Adebayo has played a crucial role in Miami’s recent two runs to the NBA Finals in 2020 and 2023, and he’s still finding ways to improve every year.

No. 10: Julius Randle

New York Knicks v Miami Heat Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

One-and-done in Lexington, Randle left a mark in his only season with the Wildcats, finishing his freshman year with the 24 double-doubles, the second-most tally in a single season by any player in the program’s history. Kentucky ultimately lost in the national championship game to UConn, but Randle’s brief tenure at the school was certainly successful.

The versatile forward opted to forego his final three years of eligibility and enter the 2014 NBA Draft, in which the Los Angeles Lakers selected him seventh overall.

Randle’s stint in L.A. was admittedly tough, as he never really found his footing over the course of four years with the Lakers. In the 2018 offseason, the sides parted ways, and Randle found a new home in New Orleans, where he broke out. In one season with the Pelicans, the young big averaged 21.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.

After declining his second-year option, Randle became a free agent once again and landed with the Knicks in New York, where he has established himself as one of the most dangerous offensive players in the league. In his second season with the team, he won Most Improved Player, averaging 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and six assists per game while shooting an extremely impressive 41.1% from three.

At 28 years old, Randle boasts a myriad of NBA accolades outside of his M.I.P win, including two All-Star appearances and an All-NBA Second Team selection. He is a strong start to these rankings at No. 10.

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