KU teammates Azubuike, Dotson project as 2nd-rounders in newest mock draft
There weren’t 30 better college basketball players than Kansas stars Udoka Azubuike and Devon Dotson in the shortened 2019-20 season. But at least that many prospects from the NCAA ranks and overseas are expected to get selected before the pair of Jayhawks in this year’s NBA Draft.
Although Dotson hasn’t yet officially reached a decision on entering his name into the pool, the latest mock draft from ESPN is assuming, just as KU coach Bill Self has, that Dotson will declare.
At this point, ESPN draft experts Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz project that both Dotson, KU’s speed-bursting point guard, and Azubuike, the Jayhawks’ defensive-minded center, will be second-round picks.
Still, the KU teammates both are thought of highly enough that they barely missed out on the first round. The newest mock draft slated them as back-to-back picks to open round No. 2, with Azubuike going first in the second and final round, and Dotson getting drafted right after him.
Point guards such as LaMelo Ball, Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton, R.J. Hampton, North Carolina’s Cole Anthony, Theo Maledon, Arizona’s Nico Mannion, Alabama’s Kira Lewis Jr. and Michigan State’s Cassius Winston are projected to go in the first round, ahead of Dotson, KU’s AP second-team All-American.
The latest first-round projections don’t include many traditional centers, what with the game trending away from low-post big men. The mock draft had one going early, with Memphis center James Wiseman at No. 2. The first round also featured two players listed at both forward and center: USC’s Onyeka Okongwu, Memphis’ Precious Achiuwa
Only two other players who are strictly considered centers, Washington’s Isaiah Stewart and Duke’s Vernon Carey Jr., were listed as first-rounders, but they were in Azubuike’s neighborhood, between picks No. 26-30.
The forecast provided by Givony and Schmitz displayed what they thought teams were most likely to do with their draft picks. But they admitted it’s also an even more inexact science than usual at this juncture, because the NBA hasn’t even yet sorted out its final standings for the season, which remains on pause amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Nor has the league held its lottery to determine the order for the top 14 picks.
The uncertainty also stretches to the pre-draft process itself. It may well prove difficult for prospects such as Azubuike and Dotson to improve their stock, because they still don’t know when or if they will be able to work out for NBA teams.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the league informed its 30 franchises that in-person workouts and interviews with prospects are off until further notice.
Per Wojnarowski, teams can only conduct interviews via video conference, and are limited to four hours total for those interactions with a given player. What’s more, Wojnarowski reported teams aren’t allowed to request video of recent workouts from prospects and can only watch video footage of games or practice sessions that occurred before the NBA suspended its season on March 11.
So whatever relatively recent action general managers, coaches and scouts want to view of Azubuike and Dotson will have come from the Jayhawks’ truncated 28-3 season for the time being.
A 20-year-old 7-footer from Nigeria, Azubuike shot 74.8% from the floor playing inside, while averaging 13.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocked shots.
Also 20, and actually a smidge older than Azubuike, Dotson, a 6-2 point guard, put up 18.1 points per game, with 4.0 assists and 2.1 steals to go with 30.9% 3-point shooting and an 83% mark at the free throw line.