STAYING IN DRAFT
Frank Jackson, G, Duke
The freshman made up his mind nearly two weeks ago when he announced he’d signed with an agent after Day 1 of the Draft Combine. That seemed like the probable outcome all along, but Jackson’s performance in Chicago -- most notably throwing up a 42” max vertical -- ultimately sealed the decision.
It’s unclear if Jackson -- who recently underwent foot surgery that will sideline him into July -- received the first-round guarantee most prospects in his position seek, but he’ll be a mid-second-round pick, at worst. A strong sophomore season could have propelled him into the first round next June, but with Grayson Allen back and a top-three recruiting class -- headlined by blue chip guards Trevon Duval and Gary Trent, Jr. -- on its way to Durham, Jackson’s path to a lead role wasn’t all that clear.
Tony Bradley, F/C, North Carolina
Bradley took his decision down to the wire before announcing Wednesday morning that he’ll become North Carolina’s first one-and-done in a decade (shoutout Brandan Wright). The rumor is Bradley secured a guarantee at the end of Round 1, and if that’s indeed the case, the decision to leave makes sense.
While Bradley could have conceivably played his way into the 2018 lottery conversation, he’s not a prospect with an extremely high ceiling, and next year’s draft already projects to be more frontcourt-heavy. Don’t expect Bradley to be a rotation player as a rookie, but his size and advanced fundamentals for his age should make him an attractive asset in the long term.
Johnathan Motley, F, Baylor
All along, Motley was expected to enter the draft, but he waited until after the Draft Combine to officially sign with an agent. While the junior did not actually participate in any Combine drills as he continues to recover from an MCL injury, he measured in at nearly 6’9” in shoes with an impressive 7’4” wingspan. Most projections place Motley right on the edge of the first round, but it’s tough to imagine his stock rising much higher after averaging 17.2 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 blocks last season.
Eric Mika, F, BYU
After struggling at the Combine and posting unimpressive measurables, Mika’s decision to hire an agent shortly after the event was a bit of a head-scratcher. That said, as a 22-year-old sophomore -- Mika spent two years on an LDS mission -- there’s not much he’d be able to do in the next two years to improve his stock. At this point, Mika probably won’t be drafted, so he’ll likely eye a career playing overseas.
Losing last season’s leading scorer is obviously a major blow for BYU, but the Cougars return plenty of talent, headlined by explosive guards TJ Haws and Nick Emery.
D.J. Wilson, F, Michigan
Wilson told reporters at the Combine that he’d only stay in the draft if he received a first-round guarantee, so it appears he was able to secure one sometime in the last week-and-a-half. Widely considered a borderline-first-rounder, the sophomore is coming off of a breakout junior campaign, during which he averaged 11.0 points and 5.3 rebounds after barely seeing the floor as a sophomore. Wilson was especially impressive down the stretch, piling up 26 points in a Big Ten Tournament win over Purdue and scoring in double-figures in six of the Wolverines’ final seven games. A leg injury prevented Wilson from participating in drills at the Combine, but he still walked away a winner after measuring in at 6’10.5” in shoes with an impressive 7’3” wingspan.
UPDATE - 6:05 PM ET:
Caleb Swanigan, F, Purdue
Swanigan found himself in virtually this same position last year. Most projections have him teetering on the edge of the first round, despite putting together one of the best sophomore campaigns in Big Ten history. From a pure production standpoint, Swanigan is almost unmatched in this draft, but how his game will translate to the faster-paced NBA is a serious question mark. While Swanigan is an efficient inside-out scorer and good passer, he doesn’t have great foot speed or leaping ability, and he’s battled weight issues in the past. By all accounts, Swanigan has put in the work to transform his body over the last two years, but teams still have concerns about where he’ll fit defensively at the next level.
RETURNING TO SCHOOL
Deng Adel, G, Louisville
Adel officially announced his return Tuesday, essentially locking Louisville in as a preseason top-10 team. The loss of projected first-round pick Donovan Mitchell will hurt, but Rick Pitino intends to slide Adel into the lead guard role vacated by Mitchell, and Adel, who was not invited to the Combine but worked out for several teams, hopes it will result in a similar rise up draft boards. Physically, Adel -- 6’7” with a 6’10” wingspan -- might be a better prospect than his former teammate, but he’ll need to demonstrate more polish as a playmaker and tangible improvement as a three-point shooter in order to approach first-round status in 2018.
Rawle Alkins, G, Arizona
Alkins had a chance to hear his name called late in Round 2, but returning to Arizona was ultimately the best decision for the rising sophomore. He was impressive as a freshman -- 10.9pts, 4.9reb, 2.1ast, 47% 3PT -- but his jumpshot is still a bit shaky, and it’s unclear where, exactly, he’ll fit in the NBA. While Alkins has the strength and athleticism (40.5” max vertical) to defend both guard spots, he doesn’t profile as a typical NBA point guard. Ultimately, Alkins could end up as a playmaking swing guard in the mold of a Marcus Smart/Lance Stephenson type.
Trevon Bluiett, G/F, Xavier
As expected, Bluiett announced Tuesday that he’ll return to Xavier for his senior season. A likely preseason All-American, Bluiett is one of the best pure scorers in college basketball and has improved his scoring average in each of his three seasons. Bluiett led undermanned Xavier to the Elite Eight as a junior, averaging 21.3 points in four NCAA Tournament games.
As an upperclassman with unremarkable measurements -- 6’5” with a 6’6.5” wingspan -- Bluiett will only be able to improve his stock so much next season, but another high-scoring campaign could solidify his place in the second round. As as prospect, Bluiett reminds me of Jodie Meeks, who went 41st overall to Milwaukee in 2009 after averaging 23.7 points per game in his final year at Kentucky.
Tacko Fall, C, Central Florida
Fall’s NBA case continues to be a complicated one. On one hand, he’s 7’6” with a rumored wingspan of more than eight feet. On the other, he struggles to move laterally and lacks the all-around strength to maximize his rare stature. As a sophomore, Fall averaged just 10.9 points per game, but he converted 72 percent of his field goal attempts and was named the AAC’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Fall’s height alone is intriguing enough that he’ll eventually get his shot in the NBA, but there’s a good chance he would have gone undrafted in 2017. The glaring concern is that his rim-protecting will essentially be neutralized in the NBA, as the pro game continues to pivot toward smaller, more-dynamic lineups. Asking Fall to step out and guard Anthony Davis or Karl Anthony Towns on the perimeter would be a death sentence.
Justin Jackson, F, Maryland
Jackson’s combination of size, length and outside shooting intrigued scouts enough to earn him an invite to the Combine, but with the draft less than a month away, Jackson remained a mid-second-round pick, at best. The freshman averaged 10.5 points and 6.0 rebounds while shooting 44 percent from three last season and showed off a 7’3.25” wingspan at the Combine. The Ontario native has the tools to defend up to four positions in the NBA, and he could work his way into the end of the first round in 2018 if he’s able to demonstrate more consistency as a scorer.
Omer Yurtseven tells me that he will be returning to NC State for his sophomore season. Entered 2017 NBA Draft without an agent.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) May 24, 2017
Yup ain't getting rid of me that fast 👀🤑 pic.twitter.com/P4nvWtNWya— Moe Wagner (@moritz_weasley) May 24, 2017
Hamidou Diallo is withdrawing from the NBA Draft and returning to Kentucky, a source told @CBSSports.— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) May 25, 2017