Texas’ Hayes head­lines list of big men in NBA draft

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - As­so­ci­ated Press

Jax­son Hayes needed only a year at Texas to put him­self at the front of the class of big men in Thurs­day’s NBA draft.

The fresh­man could go late in the lot­tery, head­lin­ing a list of in­trigu­ing tal­ents as the role of the big man has evolved in the NBA to em­brace more flex­i­bil­ity and abil­ity to roam out­side the paint. That in­cludes Bol Bol, a 7-foot-2 first-round prospect with the unique skillset to play out­side.

Here’s a look at the top prospects:

JAX­SON HAYES, Texas There’s a lot of length and long-term po­ten­tial in the Longhorns fresh­man.

STRENGTHS: Hayes mea­sured nearly 7-0 with a more than 7-3 wing­span, which was among the best at the com­bine. That length gives him the po­ten­tial to de­velop into a strong shot blocker af­ter swat­ting 2.2 shots per game at Texas. He av­er­aged a mod­est 10.0 points in a com­ple­men­tary role, but just turned 19 and is early in his devel­op­ment.

CON­CERNS: He’ll have to do more than just dunk at the next level. Hayes shot 72.8% from the field (he didn’t make enough shots to qual­ify for the na­tional stats leader­board), but 74 of his 123 field goals came on dunks (60.2. He was prone to foul is­sues af­ter tal­ly­ing at least four fouls in 16 games. He was also a medi­ocre re­bounder (5.0), fail­ing to record a dou­ble-dou­ble while crack­ing dou­ble fig­ures on the glass just once.

BRAN­DON CLARKE, Gon­zaga

The 6-8 ju­nior pro­vided Gon­zaga with a strong rim pres­ence at both ends to be­come a first-round prospect.

STRENGTHS: Clarke put up big num­bers in his last two col­lege sea­sons, first as a sopho­more at San Jose State (17.3 points,

8.7 re­bounds) and then at Gon­zaga as a trans­fer (16.9 points, 8.6 re­bounds). He shot a na­tional-best 68.7% while im­prov­ing sig­nifi

cantly at the line (69.4%, up from 57.3% in his last year at San Jose State). He was also a ver­sa­tile de­fender, av­er­ag­ing 3.2 blocks and

1.2 steals to be named West Coast Con­fer­ence de­fen­sive player of the year.

CON­CERNS: Clarke is a bit un­der­sized as a power for­ward. He also has yet to show sig­nif­i­cant range on his out­side shot, mak­ing just 6 of 24 3-point­ers (25 over his three-year col­lege ca­reer.

PJ WASH­ING­TON, Ken­tucky

The 6-8 sopho­more brings length and ath­leti­cism in­side along with the abil­ity to step out of the paint, which could have him go late in the lot­tery.

STRENGTHS: Wash­ing­ton im­proved in ev­ery ma­jor area last year

at Ken­tucky. That in­cluded in­creases of at least 30 per­cent in both his scor­ing (15.2) and rebounding (7.5) out­put, along with shoot­ing 52% from the floor and ex­tend­ing his range (42.3% from 3-point range, up from 23.8% as a fresh­man). He also has a bet­ter than 7-2 wing­span, which could help his rebounding and shot block­ing trans­late to the NBA level.

CON­CERNS: Wash­ing­ton lacks the height to stay con­fined solely to the post, so he’ll have to con­tinue to ex­tend his shoot­ing range. He also shot just 63% from the line over two col­lege sea­sons.

BOL BOL, Ore­gon

Bol put up big num­bers in a brief Ore­gon ca­reer with an un­usual skillset and is a first-round wild card.

STRENGTHS: He has the length to play in the paint that in­cludes a 7-7 wing­span match­ing the height

of his late fa­ther, for­mer NBA player Manute Bol. He av­er­aged 21.0 points, 9.6 re­bounds and 2.7 blocks, in­clud­ing shoot­ing 56.1% over­all and 52% from 3-point range. He can cre­ate matchup prob­lems with his abil­ity to shoot over de­fend­ers, par­tic­u­larly if they don’t close out on the perime­ter.

CON­CERNS: How will he hold up phys­i­cally? He could use some strength on his 208-pound frame to bang against stronger play­ers in­side. He played just nine games be­fore go­ing down for the sea­son with a foot in­jury, rais­ing the un­cer­tainty as to whether he will be in­jury prone with his unique physique.

OTH­ERS TO WATCH

— GOGA BITADZE: The 6-11, 250-pound cen­ter is a first-round prospect who turns 20 next month and av­er­aged 12.1 points in his first sea­son in the Euroleague.

— NI­CO­LAS CLAXTON, Ge­or­gia: The sopho­more is a first-round prospect who thrived last sea­son (13.0 points, 8.6 re­bounds) while mea­sur­ing at nearly 7-0 with a nearly 7-3 wing­span.

— BRUNO FER­NANDO, Mary­land: The sopho­more is a first-round prospect who mea­sured well (6-10 height, 7-3 wing­span) at the com­bine af­ter av­er­ag­ing a dou­ble-dou­ble (13.6 points, 10.6 re­bounds).

— DANIEL GAFFORD, Arkansas: The 6-11 sopho­more is a sec­ond-round prospect who av­er­aged 2.1 blocks for his ca­reer.

— MFIONDU KABENGELE, Florida State: The 6-10 sopho­more has a 7-3 wing­span and in­side-out ver­sa­til­ity (13.2 points, 36.9% from 3-point range last sea­son) to be a first-round prospect.

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