The latest NBA mock draft 2017 features several players who are competing in the 2017 NCAA Final Four on Saturday night. As the No. 3 seed Oregon Ducks and No. 1 seed North Carolina Tar Heels battle for a spot in the national championship game, two college basketball prospects will also be on display. For UNC, it’s their junior forward, Justin Jackson, while Oregon’s Dillon Brooks will also be auditioning for his spot in the NBA. Here are the latest updates on where these two tournament stars might end up when the NBA Draft arrives in June.
According to The Sporting News, Oregon’s Dillon Brooks and UNC’s Justin Jackson rank in the top four players remaining for this year’s NCAA Tournament. Along with them are Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss and South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell. Jackson is considered the top player of the four, while Brooks has been ranked as fourth out of these talented college stars. Thornwell is a name that not many people knew until this tournament, but he was the second-highest scorer in terms of average this past season trailing only Markelle Fultz from Washington. Fultz has been speculated as the top pick in this June’s NBA Draft by many mock draft sites.
North Carolina’s Jackson, who is considered the best of the bunch remaining in the Final Four, has something a lot of the players speculated above him don’t: more than one year of college basketball experience. The 6-foot-8 junior wing player has shown efficient scoring ability and increased his three-point shooting range over the past season. He averaged 18.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists for the season. Jackson was also the top scorer for his team to help lead them to victory against Kentucky in the Elite Eight. While he didn’t hit the game winner, Jackson finished with 19 points, five rebounds, and four assists.
As for Dillon Brooks, he’s also got that experience factor as he’s also playing in his junior season. Brooks has helped this Oregon Ducks team on their run to the Final Four, despite the team being down one of their stars. He’s led the team in scoring for the season with 16.3 points a game, and also averaged just over three rebounds and nearly three assists per outing. Against Kansas, the junior forward finished with 17 points on 7-for-18 shooting and had five rebounds plus four assists.
So where will these two prospects ultimately wind up? It really depends on the NBA mock draft that one consults, but Jackson is considered the lottery pick of the two. One of the mock draft sites, NBA Draft Express, lists Jackson at the No. 12 slot being taken by the Portland Trail Blazers. He would join a team already in the playoff mix (as of this report) that features All-Star caliber player Damian Lillard at the point and CJ McCollum as another top scorer. Adding Jackson to the roster could certainly help this young and talented team continue to make their push into the NBA postseason.
It’s currently speculated that Dillon Brooks will fall outside of the NBA Draft’s first round and into the second. Draft Express predicts he’ll be around the No. 38 pick. Right now, it’s unknown which team is drafting at which spot, but based on their mock, it could be the Boston Celtics. Keep in mind the Celtics, a team already within the top four squads in the East, is also vying for one of the top three picks this summer due to their previous trade with Brooklyn. That said, the Celtics might be adding a lot more young talent to their roster such as Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, or Josh Jackson, as well as Brooks based on NBA mock draft rumors.
In an interesting sidenote, Brooks’ dynamic teammate, Jordan Bell, is speculated to go just a spot above him in the latest mock NBA draft. Bell could end up being drafted at No. 37 and go to a team such as the Sacramento Kings, Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls, or Boston Celtics, depending on who ends up in that slot and decides they’d like to use his talents on their roster.
Bell, Brooks, and Jackson will certainly be on display enough on Saturday night in their NCAA Final Four matchup. Jackson seems to have settled into a spot outside of the top 10 based on most mock draft sites. If Brooks propels his team past North Carolina and to a championship, it could possibly boost his stock. In addition to all that, the players still have to declare and then go through team workouts to audition for their spots with an NBA franchise.
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