Kentucky’s most electric player is headed to the NBA draft. He’s projected in the top 10.

Rob Dillingham is headed to the NBA draft after one season at Kentucky.

The 6-foot-3 guard from Hickory, N.C. announced his plans Tuesday to enter this year’s draft, and he’ll leave Lexington projected as a lottery pick following just one season with the Wildcats.

He will forgo his remaining three seasons of college eligibility and has signed with the Klutch Sports agency. Dillingham revealed his decision on ESPN shortly after John Calipari announced that he was stepping down as Kentucky’s head coach, but the decision from Dillingham was inevitable long before Calipari’s departure.

“It was an up-and-down season with a lot of great moments,” Dillingham told ESPN. “We won a lot of games with a young team. It was a great learning experience, and it was amazing to share it with my teammates. I learned how to be for everyone. That’s what wins games. Coach Cal has done a lot for Kentucky. I feel like he’s a great coach. Wherever he goes, he’ll be a great coach.”

Calipari is expected to be named the next head coach at Arkansas.

Kentucky freshman Rob Dillingham was second on the team with 15.2 points and 3.9 assists per game this season.
Kentucky freshman Rob Dillingham was second on the team with 15.2 points and 3.9 assists per game this season.

Dillingham averaged 15.2 points — second on the team behind fifth-year senior Antonio Reeves — and 3.9 assists (second behind fellow freshman Reed Sheppard) while playing 23.3 minutes and making one start in 32 games. SEC coaches voted Dillingham as the league’s Sixth Man of the Year, and he was one of eight players named to the conference’s All-Freshman Team, joining Sheppard and fellow UK guard D.J. Wagner in that group.

The most electric player on Kentucky’s highly efficient, high-scoring offense this past season, Dillingham flashed next-level skills with his ability to break down defenders and create space for himself in one-on-one situations. He also shot 44.4% from 3-point range.

NBA draft analysts are high on Dillingham’s prospects entering the spring.

ESPN has the 19-year-old at No. 4 on its list of the top 100 prospects for the 2024 NBA draft, behind only French duo Zaccharie Risacher and Alex Sarr, and UConn big man Donovan Clingan. The Ringer’s Big Board has Dillingham at No. 8 overall. The most recent mock drafts from other national outlets also have Dillingham as a lottery pick this year, with CBS Sports projecting him at No. 2, Yahoo Sports slotting him at No. 9, and The Sporting News placing him at No. 11 on its updated list.

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