Sports Illustrated recently updated their post March Madness NBA Mock Draft and the consensus hasn’t changed: Mo Bamba will be taken in the top five of the draft.
According to the magazine, Bamba will be the No. 4 pick of the Orlando Magic, taken behind Arizona center Deandre Ayton, European prospect Luka Doncic and Michigan State center Jaren Jackson.
Bamba would join Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge and Tristan Thompson as Longhorns who were selected in the top five of the NBA Draft.
SI writes: “There’s no questioning Bamba’s insane defensive potential given his length and mobility. His 7’9” wingspan and 9’6” standing reach are true rarities.”
The critics are the usual ones: Bamba’s competitiveness and “playing hard.”
The other big news from the SI mock draft is Texas junior Kerwin Roach, who announced he was “testing the waters” and entering the draft without an agent, was not among the 60 draft picks. Now, anyone who has followed the Longhorns over the last two years knows that doesn’t mean he’ll return. Isaiah Taylor wasn’t projected to be picked and wasn’t even invited to the NBA Combine, a clear indicator if teams think you’re draftable, but hired an agent regardless.
NBA will send invites to its May draft combine later this month.
The difference is Taylor, coming off a first team All-Big 12 season, was a much more accomplished player than Roach was when he entered the draft two years ago, so fans shouldn’t read too much into the comparison.
Eric Davis, who is going pro after a rocky end to his Longhorn career, was not a projected pick.
If Roach returns, Texas should have a formidable squad returning to campus. No other Longhorns are expected to enter the draft process and after the transfers of James Banks and Jacob Young, any other player exits would be a surprise. With a top 10 recruiting class coming to campus, and a handful of talented players returning such as Dylan Osetkowski, Matt Coleman and Jericho Sims, Texas could have the pieces to return to the tournament.
Other mock observations:
The NBA scouts continue to favor Texas Tech freshman Zhaire Smith. The guard has seen his stock go from nothing to possible late first round pick following an athletic tournament display and highlight-filled freshman season. Smith was a 3-star recruit but his athletic ability is off the charts. Does he have an NBA ready game, specifically offensively? That has yet to be seen, but that won’t stop NBA teams from drafting a player with high upside.
SI has Smith, who Kirk Bohls tweeted should be the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year, going No. 22 to the San Antonio Spurs.
As for other Big 12 players, SI has Bamba and Oklahoma freshman Trae Young as the only top 10 Big 12 draft picks. Along with Smith, Kansas senior Devonte’ Graham is projected as only other Big 12 first round pick. In the second round, West Virginia’s Jevon Carter joins Kansas’ Malik Newman and Svi Mykhailiuk as draft picks.
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