Pac-12 big men Lauri Markannen of Arizona and T.J. Leaf of UCLA have joined the growing list of underclassmen who have thrown their names in the hat for this summer’s NBA draft.
Markkanen, ranked 10th on the most recent Liberty Ballers Big Board and eighth on DraftExpress, starred as a sharpshooting seven-footer for the Wildcats this season, making 54.5 percent of his two-point field goals and 42.3 percent of his three-pointers on 4.4 attempts per game. His Bargnanian 17.5 percent defensive rebounding rate at his size, as well as his poor block rate of 1.3 percent, will scare some teams away in June, but he seems to be a lottery lock.
With how well Ersan Ilyasova looked offensively at times next to Joel Embiid for the Sixers this season, Markkanen would be an intriguing option as a stretch four if the team didn’t already have nominal power forwards (and better prospects) Dario Saric and Ben Simmons on the roster to play around Embiid.
Leaf, who DraftExpress currently has going 22nd in its mock draft, averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game for Steve Alford’s squad, while also shooting 61.7 percent from the field, 46.6 percent from deep on 1.7 attempts per game and 67.9 percent from the line. As a 6’10” power forward, Leaf offers teams some similar abilities to Markkanen in terms of being a stretch big at the next level.
Two point guards have declared for the draft as well: Xavier’s Edmond Sumner and Maryland’s Melo Trimble. A redshirt sophomore, Sumner entering the draft is a bit of surprise, as DraftExpress has him going 29th in next year’s mock draft. He averaged 14.3 points and 4.8 assists per game this season. Trimble had a lot of hype surrounding him during his freshman year, but that has cooled off at this point, coming in at just 59th on DX’s mock draft. An entertaining collegiate player, Trimble averaged 16.8 points and 3.7 assists per game as a junior for the Terrapins.
For a complete list of all the college players who have declared early, Draft Express has you covered.