10 NBA Draft prospects who can rise or fall in SEC Tournament

The SEC Tournament approaches. Here are the NBA Draft prospects who most deserve your attention.

Reed Sheppard, Kentucky
Reed Sheppard, Kentucky / Andy Lyons/GettyImages
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2. Kentucky's Rob Dillingham has a real shot at No. 1 overall

The current favorites to go No. 1 overall in June all hail from overseas — France's Zaccharie Risacher and Alex Sarr, and Serbia's Nikola Topic. Still, even as the game becomes increasingly global, we know NBA front offices are inextricably attached to college basketball. We saw Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley surpass Luka Doncic. Last season, it was Brandon Miller overtaking G League's Scoot Henderson as the No. 2 pick. There's always a chance for domestic, collegiate prospects to gain the upper hand simply by playing on the college stage.

Rob Dillingham is built for the moment in March. He relishes the spotlight, and his game oozes star-power in a way few other prospects can match. It's rare for skinny 6-foot-2 guards to earn No. 1 pick consideration in modern times, but the 2024 class is weak enough for Dillingham to break the mold. His creativity, both as a scorer and a passer, leaps off the screen every game for Kentucky. He's coming off the bench, but he is easily one of the Wildcats' best players.

Expect Dillingham to put together a few more standout performances between now and the end of the month. He recently poured in 23 points against LSU, a true signature game from the 19-year-old. If he can manage more such outings, where the electricity of his shot-making and passing overshadows his limitations as a defender, Dillingham has a real shot to come off the board early in June.

1. Kentucky's Reed Sheppard is the best freshman in college basketball

Speaking of unconventional No. 1 pick candidates, another Kentucky reserve is starting to poke around that conversation. Reed Sheppard would easily be the most unconventional top pick in years — maybe decades. The talented freshman was not considered a one-and-done prospect out of high school, but the son of Kentucky legend Jeff Sheppard has been the best freshman in college basketball. It's not much of a debate either.

Sheppard has put together a historic season beyond the arc, shooting 51.2 percent on 4.2 attempts per game from 3-point range. The main case against Sheppard has been the lack of on-ball production, but Kentucky has ramped up the 19-year-old's usage in recent weeks. He has multiple signature performances in SEC play, including a 32-point explosion against Mississippi State on Feb. 27 — a game in which Sheppard went 7-for-7 inside the arc. He's starting to beat defenders at the point of attack and create off drives, in addition to the prolific off-ball scoring. That, combined with excellent defense, has Sheppard firmly on top-five watch in NBA Draft circles.

That said, Sheppard is generously listed at 6-foot-3 with a net-zero wingspan and limited athleticism. No matter how strong his effort on defense, NBA offenses will target him. He needs to use the next few weeks to prove to NBA scouts that he has legitimate No. 1 option equity — that he is more than a connector in a point guard's frame. If Sheppard can accomplish that, NBA front offices will struggle to look past his historically great efficiency.

2024 NBA MOCK DRAFT. March Madness arrives, as does Kentucky's backcourt. March Madness arrives, as does Kentucky's backcourt. dark