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Arizona Wildcats 2018 NBA Draft Special By: Alec White

Where will Ayton, Alkins and Trier land?

The 2018 NBA Draft is almost here and will take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on Thursday where several former Arizona Wildcat basketball players have a shot at being selected.

Deandre Ayton, Rawle Alkins and Allonzo Trier are among those in draft consideration for the 30 NBA franchises. Dusan Ristic and Parker Jackson-Cartwright are not expected to be drafted but may get an invite to NBA Summer League play.

The following page gives a breakdown of where each player is projected to land, their strengths and weaknesses, and potential fit in the NBA.

DEANDRE AYTON

Arizona's first NO. 1 PICK?

“There’s nobody like Deandre. Nobody.” - Sean Miller 5/31/18

The Phoenix Suns hold the coveted No. 1 overall pick in the draft and all signs point to them taking Deandre Ayton to kick off draft night. If Ayton is the top pick, he will become the first Arizona men's basketball player to be a No. 1 overall draft choice. Sean Elliot went 3rd overall in the 1989 draft, Mike Bibby went 2nd overall in the 1998 draft and Derrick Williams went 2nd overall in the 2011 draft.

Standing at a height of 7-foot-1, 260 pounds, Ayton is the type of player that was hand-crafted by the basketball gods. Ayton dominated on a nightly basis for the Wildcats this year and along the way, he passed Al Fleming for most double-doubles at UA in a single season.

Ayton's accolades include (but are not limited too): Pac-12 Player of the Year, Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player, First Team All-American and Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year. In other words, there's a reason why he's widely considered to be the No. 1 pick.

"I know I'm going No. 1" - Deandre Ayton 6/7/18
2017-18 Stats: 20.1 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 1.9 blkg | 61% FG, 34% 3P, 73% FT

What the experts say

HEIGHT: 7'1" | WEIGHT: 260 | WINGSPAN: 7'5"

NBA Fit and Comparisions

There will be a plethora of hype surrounding the 19-year-old Ayton when he enters the league. NBA scouts have raved about Ayton's ability to be a star two-way player and one even labeled him a "can't fail prospect".

Pro comparisons have ranged from historical big men in Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon to modern day bigs in Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns. A solid company to be grouped into.

Despite defensive concerns, Ayton should be able to make an immediate impact in the NBA. His ability to run the floor, make shots from all three levels of the court and an improvement in perimeter defense will allow Ayton to play in almost every lineup combination.

Ayton is a once-in-a-generation type player who has the ability to be one of the best, if not the best center in the NBA. He will almost certainly be the No. 1 overall pick.

RAWLE ALKINS

The curious case of rawle alkins

Strangely, Alkins heads into this year's NBA Draft with a lower stock than he would have in 2017. Alkins declared for last year's draft back in Spring of 2017, but returned to Arizona after receiving feedback by scouts and execs at the NBA Combine. Alkins was projected to go late-first, early-second last year. But now, he figures to be a mid-late second rounder.

As a freshman in 2017, Alkins turned into a valuable piece of a Wildcat team that won 32 games, the Pac-12 Tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16. When he returned to Arizona, many thought he would form a dynamic trio alongside Ayton and Trier. Except, that plan didn't take off the way it was expected too. Alkins missed the first 9 games with a broken foot and couldn't provide the spark to get Arizona to an elite level, especially defensively, once he returned to the court. He showed moments of explosiveness (see vs. USC in Pac-12 Championship), but most of his stats were down across the board.

2016-17: FG - 46%; 3P - 37%; 2P- 52%; DefRB - 3.4/g; Turnovers - 1.8/g

2017-18: FG - 43% ; 3P - 35%; 2P - 48%; DefRB - 2.9/g; Turnovers - 2.6/g

Most NBA teams are attributing his dip in performance due to his injury and like the upside about his athleticism, motor and strong body build. He's drawn interest from several franchises during the pre-draft process, including the Warriors and Lakers.

HEIGHT: 6'4" | WEIGHT: 220 | WINGSPAN: 6'9"

WHAT THE Experts SAY

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

  • Streaky shooter; "has a lot of room to grow as a shot creator" (NBA.com).
  • "Was often a step late in spots on defense" (NBA.com).
  • Has too many lapses defensively, especially guarding off-ball (TheStepien).
  • "Neither the eye test nor statistics indicate any improvement in his game since his freshman season" (TheStepien).
  • "Tends to rely too much on raw power" (NBA Scouting Live).

Pro Comparisons: Lance Stephenson and Tyreke Evans (NBADraft.net)

2017-18 Stats: 13.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.5 APG | 43 % FG, 35.9% 3FG

DRAFT Projections and Fit

If Alkins develops more as a perimeter shooter and a more all-around defender, he should project as a capable two-way player at the next level. His strong body frame and athleticism make him a moldable and appealing prospect for NBA teams.

ALLONZO TRIER

Trier trying to find room at next level

Allonzo Trier is one of the more difficult prospects to project in the draft. In the 2017-18 season, the 6-foot-5 guard put up some of the most efficient offensive stats in the country, per Synergy Sports. The former five-star recruit averaged 18 points and 3 assists per game as a junior, shooting 50 percent from the field and 38 percent from 3-point range.

But there are several questions surrounding his defensive instincts. Trier was often overmatched by quicker, stronger guards who could drive past him and he didn't collect many blocks or steals. Additionally, Trier was never able to play a full season in three years at Arizona.Trier’s freshman year was interrupted due to a broken hand, then he missed the first 19 games of his sophomore year due to a positive PED test and this past season, he missed two games for another positive PED test.

After returning from ineligibility on March 1, Trier struggled to return to his dynamic scoring ways. He averaged just 12 points per game and shot 6-35 (17 percent) from beyond the arc in his last six games.

Despite the late-season struggles, Trier has intrigued several NBA teams during the pre-draft process. Trier worked out for the Suns and Warriors earlier this month, and he also spent the early part of this week working out for Philadelphia and Memphis.

HEIGHT: 6'5"| WEIGHT: 200 | WINGSPAN: 6'7"

What the experts say

Strengths:

  • "Super-efficient, microwave scorer with no shortage of confidence." (NBA.com)
  • "Powerful athlete with some bounce on the move and strong frame" (NBA.com)
  • "Excels at scoring on the move & tremendous free throw generator" (NBA Scouting Live)
  • "Very good free-throw shooter" (NBA Scouting Live)
  • "Good form on his shot" (NBADraft.net)

Weaknesses:

2017-18 Stats: 18.1 ppg, 3.0 rbg, 3.2 apg | 50% FG, 38% 3P, 86% FT

DRAFT Projections and fit

  • BasketballInsiders.com: 2nd round, 52nd overall to Utah Jazz
  • Sports Illustrated: Undrafted
  • ESPN: Undrafted
  • The Ringer: Undrafted
  • NBADraft.net: Undrafted

The bottom line is that Trier is on the cusp of being drafted and if he is chosen, it will be because a team is impressed with his offensive ability and thinks he can develop defensively.

Comparison: Rashad McCants, Courtney Lee

Perspective

Arizona hasn’t had more than two players selected in a single NBA Draft since 2001, but if the cards fall the right way on Thursday, that streak could be broken. Ayton will more than likely go No. 1 while Alkins and Trier will be anxiously awaiting the later stages of the draft. Since taking over at Arizona in 2009-10, this will be the sixth time that head coach Sean Miller has had at least one player selected in the NBA Draft.

Created By
Alec White
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Credits:

Photos by Simon Asher & Sofia Moraga

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