Kentucky freshman Cason Wallace, a projected lottery pick, will forgo his remaining college eligibility and enter the 2023 NBA draft, he told ESPN on Saturday.
“I’m all in,” Wallace said. “This season was fun. It had its ups and downs but the best part was having my brothers with me. We stuck through it and saw it through.”
Wallace, the No. 10 prospect in ESPN’s NBA draft projections, was named to the SEC All-Freshman team after averaging 11.7 points, 4.3 assists and 2.0 steals in 32 minutes per game.
He played perhaps his best game of the season in what ended up being his final appearance in a Kentucky uniform, posting 21 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists on 9-of-11 shooting in an NCAA tournament round-of-32 loss to Kansas State.
“When NCAA tournament time came I wanted to give everything I had,” Wallace said. “That was my last game unfortunately, but I went down swinging. Coach Calipari was always there for us; when we lost, he took the blame. He taught me that it was a privilege to play the game.”
With Kentucky’s starting point guard Sahvir Wheeler injured for the final six weeks of the season, Wallace was thrust into a different role as a primary ballhandler and asked to be a more aggressive scorer, something Wallace says was ultimately good for his development.
“Learning how to play the point guard position the whole game helped,” Wallace said. “It forced me to step up to another challenge in a new role.”
Standing 6-foot-3 with 6-6 wingspan, Wallace is intriguing to NBA teams with his combination of toughness, feel for the game, spot shooting, unselfishness and defensive versatility, giving him a high floor as a prospect. He is one of the most stout defenders in this draft class, something that should help him carve out an immediate role in the NBA.
“NBA teams saw that I’m not going to back down,” Wallace said. “I’m always going to fight, no matter the situation. I’m looking forward to showing that I can do everything on the court, anything I’m asked. I’m going to develop each part of my game, my shot and handles. I’m going to get stronger, faster and quicker in the pre-draft process.”
The NBA draft combine will be held May 15-21 in Chicago, and the draft will be June 22 in New York City.
Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service used by NBA, NCAA and international teams.