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Around College Basketball: Edition 7

Which late first round prospects can help the Sixers?

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Georgia Tech Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Around College Basketball is back with its seventh edition! March is right around the corner and many prospects have separated themselves from the pack.

Pick Projection: 26th overall

Kings Watch: With a record of 27-25, the Sacramento Kings are currently projected to have the 14th pick. Remember, the Sixers get whichever pick is worse between their own and that of the Kings, with the better going to Boston, unless it’s #1 overall. As of now, the Sixers would keep their pick at 26th overall.

Prospects to Watch:

Daniel Gafford, Arkansas (C): Daniel Gafford was one of the darlings of the NBA Draft last year. Instead of taking advantage of his high rising stock, he decided to come back to the University of Arkansas for his sophomore season. For the most part, Gafford has recreated the play that made him such an intriguing prospect, but some glaring weaknesses have also shown up in year two.

Gafford is a traditional center; he plays with his back to the basket and tries to use his strength to get on the scoreboard. Nice footwork helps that happen more often than not, but besides that, his offensive game is capped. Known as a rim runner, Gafford can finish lobs and put up some highlight reel dunks, but if a defense can stop him in that area, he becomes exploitable. Gafford does not shoot 3-pointers, and unless he gets the ball in an advantageous spot in the post, he is a liability. Turnovers have plagued him this season, almost doubling his turnover rate from last year (9.6% to 17.1%). Gafford isn’t much more than a strong body and a rim runner on offense at the moment.

Defensively, Gafford has the body and youth to get better as he progresses in his career, but right now, he relies much too heavily on his athleticism to make up for lapses. Averaging two blocks per game, Gafford lives off the chase-down block. Once an offense makes him come out to the perimeter, they can take advantage, but given the opportunity to work with NBA coaches, that may change. Right now Gafford’s draft value seems to have fallen off a bit more than if he would have declared last year, but if he falls to the Sixers, they could be drafting an athletic backup to Joel Embiid who could give the team some highlight plays.

Coby White, North Carolina (PG): T.J. McConnell is one of the most enjoyable players to watch on the Sixers roster, but for the team to improve, they are going to need an upgrade at the backup point guard position. It isn’t the biggest need, but if Coby White is available late in the first round, Philadelphia could have a long-term spark plug fall into their laps.

In his first year leading the Tar Heels offense, White has had a big effect on the team’s success, averaging 15.2 points (2nd on the team) and 4.2 assists per game. White brings a natural speed and up-tempo pace when he is on the court, something the Sixers could use on their second unit with other impressive athletes surrounding him. Besides speed, he has also shown a solid jump shot that he can get off just about anywhere because of a quick release.

Shooting 38.1 percent from 3-point range this year, White has shot 50 percent (10-for-20) from deep in his last two games, along with 55 percent (16-for-29) from the field. Quick enough to get shots inside, but also smart enough to know when to pull the ball out and take a jumper, White would be a great addition to the Sixers’ bench unit.

Admiral Schofield, Tennessee (SG): If the Sixers want to embrace the rough-and-tumble personality that they seem to have grown over the past few weeks, then drafting Admiral Schofield seems like the perfect choice. Besides being on the Awesome Name First-Team, Schofield can do pretty much anything asked of him on both offense and defense.

Averaging a career-high 17 points per game in his senior season, Schofield can bang around on the inside or shoot with range. Standing at 6-foot-6 and 241 pounds, Schofield uses the strength he has to force his way past defenders or create separation from outside. The Sixers don’t have much physicality on their bench unit, but drafting Schofield could be the driving force in changing that situation.

Shooting 40 percent from 3-point range, he has proven he isn’t just a physical body, but someone that can rely on his jump shot as well. Because of all the attention his teammate Grant Williams has received, Schofield has taken more of a secondary role for the Tennessee Volunteers. Make no mistake about it, just because Williams is getting more looks at the top of the draft, doesn’t mean Schofield won’t make a difference at the next level.

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