College basketball is back! While the Sixers are now a team that doesn’t have to rely on picking at the top of the NBA Draft, it is still important to the team’s success. For the entirety of the college basketball season, Liberty Ballers will be publishing a biweekly article following some of the draft’s top prospects that are possible fits for the Sixers based on where their pick is projected to land throughout the year.
Pick Projection: 23rd overall
Kings Watch: With a record of 8-6, the Sacramento Kings are projected to have the 19th pick (technically, they’re currently in a tie with Indiana for 19th). Since the Sixers will keep the lower between the two (top-one excluded), in this situation they will keep their pick at 23rd overall.
Prospects to watch:
Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga (PF): A true starter for the first time in his collegiate career, Rui Hachimura has looked great through two games. The junior power forward is active on both sides of the court and has become one of the faces of Gonzaga’s team. His game isn’t refined yet, making his money using his jumping ability and raw athleticism, but that is what makes him such an exciting prospect. In his two years of college basketball, Hachimura hasn’t shown much of an outside shot, which could hurt him in the jump shot-friendly NBA, but he is still young enough for that to come along. Only two games into this season, Hachimura is averaging 25 points per game and 5 rebounds per game, but this prospect should be looked at more for his upside than just the stats. The highly athletic power forward would fit well within the highly athletic Sixers squad.
Killian Tillie, Gonzaga (PF/C): The second Gonzaga prospect that the Sixers could have the opportunity to draft, Tillie is a bit more polished. A talented prospect out of France, Tillie is now in his second season as a starter and one of the most consistent players on the Bulldogs because of his touch from the perimeter and his willingness to work down low. But Gonzaga won’t get to see Tillie in the starting lineup for over eight weeks because of a stress fracture in his ankle. This injury shouldn’t be one that forces Tillie out for the whole year, as he looks to come back in time for conference play in order to improve his draft stock. Tillie won’t wow anyone with highlight reel plays, but the sense of consistency would be a nice addition to any team.
Daniel Gafford, Arkansas (C): Daniel Gafford hates rims, simple as that. The Razorback big man has a chance to be one of the highest risers after impressing many at the end of last season and deciding to come back for this sophomore year. Arkansas opened the season with an overtime loss to Texas, but Gafford did everything to keep his team in it. Ending that game with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks, he then followed that effort up with a 12-point, 4-block performance in a win over UC Davis. Gafford has the ability to use his athletic frame to be a difference maker above the rim on both sides of the court. He is projected to be drafted around the time the Sixers will be on the clock, but that may change if he can continue to gain steam with his highlight plays.
Dedric Lawson, Kansas (SF/PF): A transfer from the University of Memphis, Lawson fits right into the Jayhawks starting lineup after sitting out a year due to transfer rules. Averaging 17.5 points per game and 9.6 rebounds per game through two seasons at Memphis, Lawson has a chance to make the Kansas frontcourt one of the most feared in the country. He doesn’t stand out physically, but he always seems to be in the right position to get rebounds and put back shots. Another college player with a shot that is a work in progress, Lawson is more of a power forward, especially at the next level, but will need to put on some extra weight. His lanky frame allows him to get shots up over bigger defenders on offense and play all over the court on defense. Scoring 20 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in his first game at Kansas, Lawson will need to have a solid year in order to be drafted in the first round, due to questions of his fit in the NBA.