Top Jazz Draft Prospects To Watch In NCAA Tournament
SALT LAKE CITY – The Round of 64 in the NCAA Tournament officially opens Thursday, and with three first-round draft picks this summer, the Utah Jazz will be heavily invested.
Though fewer and fewer lottery picks are competing in the NCAA Tournament, there are still plenty of likely first-round selections competing this weekend.
Here’s a look at names to watch this weekend, and when and where you can see them.
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Thursday’s Best Draft Prospects
Gradey Dick: Kansas vs. Howard: Thursday – noon MST – TBS
Gradey Dick has a chance to skyrocket up draft boards with strong performances in the NCAA Tournament.
The 6-foot-7 wing averaged 14.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.6 assists for the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks while shooting a super-efficient 44 percent from the floor and 44 percent from three as a freshman.
Projected lotto pick Gradey Dick showed off the full offensive package against Baylor: @gradey_dick
– 24 points
– 8-13 FG pic.twitter.com/Ou7e6N74h5
— B/R Hoops (@brhoops) January 24, 2023
Dick is a high-level athlete with a strong motor that could move him from the late lottery to a bona fide top-10 pick over the next few weeks.
Brandon Miller: Alabama vs. Texas A&M CC: Thursday – 12:45 pm MST – CBS
The Jazz would likely have to move into the top three in the draft to have a chance at Brandon Miller who has made a good case as the top college prospect in this year’s draft.
Miller has been fabulous on the court at Alabama averaging 19.6 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting a stellar 45 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three on 7.4 attempts per game.
Brandon Miller put his outstanding playmaking ability and deep range as a 6'9 guard on full display today in the SEC quarterfinals,dropping 18 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists in an easy win. pic.twitter.com/yLVepPEWcY
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) March 10, 2023
Despite his terrific play on the court, Miller has placed himself at the center of significant scrutiny off the floor after it was discovered he delivered a gun to teammate Darius Miles which Miles used to shoot and kill 23-year-old mother Jamea Jonae Harris later that night.
Miller hasn’t been charged with a crime related to the murder, but his role in the tragic events won’t go unnoticed leading up to the draft, regardless of his play on the floor.
Nick Smith: Arkansas vs. Illinois: Thursday – 2:30 pm MST – TBS
Nick Smith was the top overall high school prospect last season and has shown glimpses of why he earned the prestigious ranking when he’s been on the floor at Arkansas.
The scoring guard is averaging 13.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists while shooting 39 percent from the floor and 34 percent from three, but has only taken the court 12 times this season.
Went on NBA Today with @malika_andrews to talk about Nick Smith, the No. 2 prospect in the NCAA tournament, and his NBA comp. pic.twitter.com/SvHCT04cjD
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) March 14, 2023
Over his last six games, Smith is averaging 19.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 2.8 assists while shooting 40 percent from the floor and 41 percent from three after returning from a knee injury that cost him two months in the middle of the Razorbacks season.
Anthony Black: Arkansas vs. Illinois: Thursday – 2:30 pm MST – TBS
Anthony Black has worked his way into the conversation as a top-10 pick as he’s carried Arkansas to the NCAA Tournament during Smith’s injury.
Black, a 6-foot-7 combo guard is averaging 12.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 4.2 assists while shooting 46 percent from the floor and 32 percent from three.
Anthony Black doing what he does best on both ends of the floor. Does a great job of fighting around the screen and using his length to get the steal and on the other end makes the quick pass to NSJ in the corner. I believe he’s the best off-ball passer in the entire draft class. pic.twitter.com/Y5CDMcwWzX
— Global Scouting (@GlobalScouting_) March 10, 2023
The freshman is considered one of the best defenders in the class but could help his draft status with strong offensive outings during the tournament to support Smith in Arkansas’ run.
Kris Murray: Iowa vs. Auburn: Thursday – 4:50 pm MST – TNT
In one of the best-projected games in the opening round eight-seeded Iowa will face ninth-seeded Auburn with Kris Murray taking a starring role.
Murray has averaged 20.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game as a junior while shooting 48 percent from the floor and 34 percent from three.
Tale of the 📼, 2023 NBA Draft Edition: Kris Murray
💡@IowaHoops vs. Seton Hall, 11.16.22
💡Full video + stats: https://t.co/XEVrbpOSEw pic.twitter.com/BzZPImhdGi
— Pro Insight (@_proinsight) November 29, 2022
There are some concerns that Murray didn’t become the productive player he is today until he matured physically while playing against younger competition, and that will likely keep him out of the top 10.
However, with his brother Keegan’s success with the Sacramento Kings after making a similar jump during his sophomore season at Iowa, NBA teams may be willing to gamble on Murray in the middle of the first round.
Jarace Walker: Houston vs. Northern Kentucky: Thursday – 7:20 pm MST – TNT
Jarace Waker has received significant praise this season for his play as a freshman for the top-ranked Houston Cougars.
Jarace Walker brings tremendous defensive versatility at 6'7 with a chiseled frame, 7'2 wingspan, outstanding mobility and quickness getting off his feet. He guards all over the floor for Houston, showing terrific instincts jumping passing lanes or rotating to protect the rim. pic.twitter.com/KYkSSrtkme
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) March 15, 2023
Walker’s 11.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.1 assists don’t blow your socks off but his defensive versatility at 6-foot-8 teamed with his developing three-point shot is a unique combination.
Houston could be without star guard Marcus Sasser who got injured during the AAC Tournament which will put extra weight on Walker’s shoulder’s to prove he can carry the top-seeded Cougars to a deep playoff run.
Friday’s Best Draft Prospects
Keyonte George: Baylor vs. UC Santa Barbara: Friday – 11:30 am MST – TNT
Keyonte George is also a borderline top-1o pick having led Baylor to a three-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
George is a proven scorer and secondary playmaker averaging 16.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.8 assists while shooting 39 percent from the floor and 35 percent from three.
I love watching Keyonte George. Pure shot maker averaging 16 PPG and 4.1 APG. Clear top 10 pick.
He's making only 32.1% of 3s for Baylor but in HS events tracked by @CerebroSports he made 38.1% taking similarly tough 3s. Always had soft touch and 80+ FT%. His 3P% should rise. pic.twitter.com/80lXcVeAUN
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) December 19, 2022
The Bears have one of the best offenses in the country in large part due to George’s mastery with the ball in his hands, but his defense and efficiency have a ways to go.
George could be in play with any of the Jazz’s three picks in the first round.
Cason Wallace: Kentucky vs. Providence: Friday – 5:10 pm MST – CBS
The tenth-ranked recruit in the country, Cason Wallace had a good, albeit not great freshman season for Kentucky averaging 11.6 points, 4.2 assists, and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 44 percent from the floor and 34 percent from three.
Kentucky has been a disaster, but I continue to believe in Cason Wallace (as you will see in my mock draft tomorrow). Two nice plays here:
– Hits the roller with a beautiful bounce pass
– Knocks down the spot-up three
Shooting 41% from deep. Not bad for a defense first prospect pic.twitter.com/MLkFDCyyip
— Ricky O'Donnell (@SBN_Ricky) January 18, 2023
Kentucky coach John Calipari was soundly criticized for his poor coaching this season limiting what should have been a much strong offense for the Wildcats which may have contributed to Wallace’s so-so numbers.
Wallace is Kentucky’s top NBA prospect this year so he’ll carry a lot of weight to return the Wildcats to their former glory.
Jalen Hood-Schifino: Indiana vs. Kent State: Friday – 7:55 pm MST – TBS
Jalen Hood-Schifino has had a strong season as a freshman for the Hoosiers averaging 13.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists while shooting 42 percent from the floor and 34 percent from three.
Jalen Hood-Schifino is the only college guard in the class that makes these reads on a consistent basis.
These are the passes that create open 3pt looks in the NBA over and over again. High level processing for a freshman. pic.twitter.com/GyCqoevjE9
— *Miles Laurent. (@heisnotahooper) March 13, 2023
At 6-foot-5, Hood-Schifino has good size for a combo guard and could be an option for the Jazz with either their second or third pick in the first round.
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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.
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