In the ongoing NBA mock draft 2017 speculation, there are several college basketball players who were under the spotlight in March Madness. Four players who are projected as top six picks for this summer’s draft made earlier exits than they would have liked. At least one of those players is certainly headed to the pro league, while the other three have yet to declare. So what will happen with UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, Kansas’ Josh Jackson, and Kentucky’s star guards Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox? Here’s a look at where these four standouts might end up in the NBA next season.
The man who was already a household name entering the tournament, via his skills as well as his dad’s promoting, is UCLA Bruins freshman Lonzo Ball. He helped get the Bruins as far as the Sweet 16, but unfortunately, Ball and UCLA got run over by his fellow prospect, De’Aaron Fox. Ironically, Los Angeles Lakers head honcho Magic Johnson was in the house to watch Ball play. Some analysts felt that Ball could have given more effort in his game. He showed off some of his skills on the break and through clever passes, but he didn’t turn it up a notch to show he was trying to win, in some analyst’s estimations. Ball finished his final college game with 10 points, eight assists, three rebounds, and two blocks, but he also had four turnovers.
It was being said that Ball could still go as high as the No. 1 pick if he had helped guide his team further than he did. That’s still a possibility as teams will be auditioning prospects in the coming months. It’s speculated at NBADraft.net that Ball will go as high as the No. 2 pick and that the Los Angeles Lakers will draft him. That could be good news for a struggling franchise as Magic has just taken over the helm to right the sinking ship post-Kobe.
Ball appeared with his outspoken dad Lavar on ESPN’s First Take on Monday and admitted he wouldn’t mind playing for Magic’s team. He also had a meeting with one of the team’s other all-time greats, which could be a strong indicator of where he ends up this June.
— First Take (@FirstTake) March 27, 2017
A guy who really stepped his game up for Kentucky in the tournament was freshman De’Aaron Fox. He finished the win over UCLA with an explosive 39 points. His draft stock could improve once he shows more of his skills to scouts this summer. He also might need to work on his physical size and strength to transition to the NBA. Fox has yet to declare for the draft, but it’s expected. Fox was 13-for-20 from the field and also recorded four assists, three boards, and two steals. Fox is being projected to go as high as the No. 4 pick to the Magic at NBADraft.net but as the No. 6 pick by the Knicks at NBA Draft Express.
There’s also some debate on where his teammate Malik Monk will go too, as the sites have him at either fifth or ninth to the Sacramento Kings. He and Fox struggled against North Carolina. The freshmen guards’ foul trouble, along with a last second shot, helped UNC eventually claim the win. Monk had 21 points against the UCLA Bruins, though, for a strong performance prior to the losing effort. However, it’s hard to make a case for Fox or Monk to go ahead of either Fultz or Ball. Neither of the latter two players declared for the NBA draft yet, but in the Calipari “one and done” tradition at Kentucky, it’s highly expected.
Kansas was a team projected to win it all in this year’s field of 64, and much of that was due to freshman standout Josh Jackson. Unfortunately, they ran into a determined and tough Oregon Ducks team in the Elite Eight round. Jackson finished with a decent 10 points and 12 rebounds along with five assists, showing his abilities on the court. His latest projections are to go as high as No. 1 to the Boston Celtics, according to NBADraft.net, although many analysts and insiders will contend Markelle Fultz or Ball are going first. On Draft Express, Jackson is speculated as the No. 3 pick for the Phoenix Suns. Many people are predicting that if the Lakers don’t land Ball or Fultz, Jackson would be their next likely choice.
Just like the NFL has a draft combine, the NBA will as well. That all starts on Tuesday, May 9 and runs through Sunday, May 14, so players will have time to further make their cases to interested teams. Of course, the way the ping pong balls end up going for the draft order will also be a big deal. The NBA Draft Lottery is scheduled for the Tuesday after the combine has ended. By then, better mock draft projections will be made based on team positions in the draft and their needs.
Basketball fans, based on their body of work in the regular season and NCAA Tournament, which of the four players should be drafted highest in June: Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, De’Aaron Fox, or Malik Monk?
[Featured Image by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]