UTAH JAZZ

Top Jazz Draft Prospects To Watch In NCAA Tournament

Mar 15, 2023, 5:13 PM | Updated: Mar 16, 2023, 10:15 am

Gradey Dick #4 of the Kansas Jayhawks prepares to shoot against Jalen Hood-Schifino #1 of the India...

Gradey Dick #4 of the Kansas Jayhawks prepares to shoot against Jalen Hood-Schifino #1 of the Indiana Hoosiers in the first half at Allen Fieldhouse on December 17, 2022 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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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Top Jazz Draft Prospects To Watch In NCAA Tournament