Who should stay in the draft and who should go back to school (Anthony-NBA-ESPN)

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The NBA draft combine begins this week in Chicago. The on-court portion will take place Thursday and Friday afternoon, but NBA teams will interview players throughout the week. The players will also go through medical testing.

After the recent decisions of Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell, Nevada’s Cam Oliver and Baylor’s Johnathan Motley to sign with agents, there are 14 players who were invited to the combine who do not have an agent. Players without an agent have until May 24 to decide whether to remain in the draft or withdraw and return to school.

Should these players stay in the draft or remain in school? We talked to multiple NBA executives about where these players would land and what they should do. In alphabetical order, here’s what was said:

Rawle Alkins, Arizona Wildcats
A 6-foot-5 guard, Alkins averaged 10.9 PPG and 4.9 RPG. He is torn about whether to leave or go back to school. The Wildcats have Allonzo Trier coming back and will bring in talented big man DeAndre Ayton. Coach Sean Miller also might get Pittsburgh transfer Cam Johnson, so that could further complicate Alkins’ role this coming season. “He needs to go back to school,” every single NBA executive interviewed said. One added: “I love how hard he plays, but he doesn’t really have a position.”

Range: Mid to late second round
NBA says: Back to school

Tony Bradley, North Carolina Tar Heels
Kennedy Meeks is gone. Isaiah Hicks is gone. It’s Bradley’s turn to shine in the post after averaging 14.6 minutes per game as a freshman — that is, if he returns to Chapel Hill. Most NBA execs told ESPN.com that Bradley, a skilled big man, will almost certainly be selected late in the first round or early in the second if he opts to remain in the draft. They will also say his stock has a chance to improve next season. “If he goes back to school, he can play his way into the top 15,” one NBA executive said.
Range: 25-35
NBA says: Back to school

Hamidou Diallo, Kentucky Wildcats
He enrolled at the semester break last year but didn’t play for the Wildcats. Diallo is a big-time athlete, but the knock on him is his feel for the game and ability to make shots from the perimeter. “He’s a freak athlete but has so much to learn,” one NBA executive said. Another wondered whether it might not be advantageous to leave now, for fear of being exposed at the college level.
Range: Early second round
NBA says: Back to school

Frank Jackson, Duke Blue Devils
This is an interesting one. And it’s about more than what will happen this week at the combine. It also has to do with the impending decision of top-ranked high school senior point guard Trevon Duval. Jackson wasn’t able to showcase that he was a point guard as a freshman in Durham but should get an opportunity in front of NBA guys to play with the ball in his hands. Jackson is a likely second-rounder, and his decision is complicated by the return of Grayson Allen and the possible addition of Duval. “If he goes back to school, I think he can definitely play his way into a first-rounder,” one NBA executive told ESPN.
Range: Second round
NBA says: Back to school

Justin Jackson, Maryland Terrapins
The “other” Justin Jackson is extremely intriguing to the NBA folks. He’s 6-foot-7, athletic and can shoot it. Jackson averaged 10.5 PPG and 6.0 RPG and shot 44 percent from deep. “He’s a guy who can go back to school and become firmly entrenched as a first-rounder next year.”
Range: This varies depending on whom you talk to. Some feel he can slip into the end of the first round, but most feel as though he’s in the 40 range.
NBA says: Back to school

Andrew Jones, Texas Longhorns
He struggled, but so did the entire Longhorns team last season. The 6-foot-4 freshman was forced to play out of position at times, but next season coach Shaka Smart will have a true point guard in Matt Coleman. That will allow Jones to be able to play off the ball, and he should also have someone to help get him easier looks. Jones averaged 11.4 PPG, but he needs to become a more consistent shooter from deep. Jones will probably return to Austin.
Range: 45 to undrafted
NBA says: Back to school

Eric Mika, BYU Cougars
Mika, a 6-foot-10 big man, came back from a two-year mission trip and was extremely productive, averaging 20.3 PPG and 9.2 RPG. Most NBA guys feel he would go somewhere in the middle of the second round. They are torn about whether he should go back to school, largely because he turns 23 in January. “I’d like to see him go back and work on extending his range,” one NBA executive said.
Range: Mid second round
NBA says: Back to school

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Kansas Jayhawks
He came into Lawrence with a lot of hype. He hasn’t done that much in three years at Kansas. He has the size, and he has shown the ability to shoot the ball from deep. He is still young, not turning 20 until June. “I still hold out hope on him,” one NBA executive told ESPN. “He’s still really young and can be a catch-and-shoot guy. The question is whether he has a bigger role at Kansas next year than he did the past couple years.”
Range: 45 to 60
NBA says: Back to school

Semi Ojeleye, SMU Mustangs
After barely getting off the bench in his first two seasons at Duke, the 6-foot-7 combo forward thrived at SMU. He averaged 19.0 PPG and shot 42 percent on 3-pointers. “I really like him and think he could sneak into the end of the first round,” one NBA executive said. “He could play a small-ball 4-man.” Another said: “I don’t see a first-rounder, but others do. He’s already graduated and almost 23 years old. I think he should leave.”
Range: 25 to 40
NBA says: Split decision

Caleb Swanigan, Purdue Boilermakers
The odds are slim that Swanigan returns to college, but there’s still a chance, because he has yet to sign with an agent. Remember, his adoptive father, Roosevelt Barnes, is also a sports agent, so he understands how the process works. An ultra-productive, 6-foot-9 big man, Swanigan is considered a fringe first-rounder despite averaging 18.5 PPG and 12.5 RPG, and the combine shouldn’t have much impact on what he winds up doing. “He’s a borderline first-round guy, and I’m not sure how he will have a better year than he did this past year,” one NBA GM told ESPN.com. “I don’t see how he improves his stock coming back,” another NBA executive said.
Range: 25 to 35
NBA says: Leave school now

Mo Wagner, Michigan Wolverines
A skilled, 6-foot-11 Germany native, Wagner is intriguing. His is a small sample size, though. He had a huge game against Louisville in the NCAA tournament with 26 points but was mediocre in the other two tournament games. “He has a lot of holes in his game,” one NBA executive said. “He needs to become a better rebounder and defender.” Added another executive: “I know he can shoot it, but he needs to get stronger and be more physical.”
Range: Second round to undrafted
NBA says: Back to school

Thomas Welsh, UCLA Bruins
The 7-foot junior is solid from midrange. He had a nice season, averaging 10.8 PPG and 8.7 RPG per game. The NBA folks all agree he’s a second-rounder who should return to the Bruins, especially with all that the UCLA lost, including T.J. Leaf and Ike Anigbogu up front. “I like him, but he’s going to struggle in pick-and-roll,” one NBA executive told ESPN. “He needs to go back, because he’ll be more of a focal point with all the young guys they have coming in.”
Range: 45 to 60
NBA says: Back to school


D.J. Wilson, Michigan Wolverines
The 6-foot-10 forward came out of nowhere this season and averaged 11.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 1.5 BPG while shooting 37 percent from 3. He was more consistent than Wagner, but NBA folks feel he has less upside. They love his length and ability to be a versatile defender but are concerned that he has only done it for one year. “He could take a major jump if he comes back and not have to worry about being a second rounder,” one NBA executive told ESPN.com.
Range: 25 to 40
NBA says: Back to school

Omer Yurtseven, NC State Wolfpack
A Turkish 7-footer, he was projected by some as a potential lottery pick when he decided to play college ball, but his stock has dropped considerably after a disappointing season in which he averaged 5.9 PPG and 4.4 RPG. One NBA executive said it’s a joke that he’s even going through the process, and another wondered whether his best move would be to just play overseas and make plenty of money. “He wasn’t good this past year,” one told ESPN. “In fact, he’s regressed. I wouldn’t draft him at all.”
Range: Late second round to undrafted
NBA says: Back to school or overseas


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