06/18 09:08 CDT Texas' Jaxson Hayes headlines list of big men in NBA draft
Texas' Jaxson Hayes headlines list of big men in NBA draft
By AARON BEARD
AP Basketball Writer
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 significantly 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
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
--- 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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