One draft guru sizes up their pro prospects

Former Kansas guard Gradey Dick tries to stay in the moment.

Even when NBA mock drafts listed Dick as a lottery pick throughout last season, he was laser-focused on playing for the Jayhawks.

“It’s definitely a cool recognition (being mocked as a lottery pick),” Dick told The Star in February. “I am super grateful and thankful for that, but at the same time I’m just doing things my parents instilled in (me) of being focused on what I have at hand — not thinking too far ahead and not thinking too far in the past.”

Now, Dick’s hyper-focused on getting ready for the NBA Draft. After all, playing in the NBA has always been a dream for Dick.

His dreams will soon become reality with the NBA Draft set for June 22.

On Wednesday morning, KU guard Kevin McCullar announced he’s returning to Kansas. Now, KU fans are eager to see where Dick and forward Jalen Wilson land in the draft.

Here, we hear from Jeremy Woo, a contributor covering basketball prospects and the NBA Draft for ESPN, about Dick and Wilson’s pro prospects.

Kansas guard Gradey Dick

Draft projection: Mid-lottery pick.

Woo’s thoughts: I like that he decided to actually participate in the drills. I wouldn’t say it mattered too much, but it’s nice when guys participate. I think he’s on pretty solid ground to go in the lottery. I think it would be a surprise if he fell out of the lottery at this point.

What team would be a good fit for Dick, and what does he need to improve on?

Woo: I think a lot of these teams need shooting. I don’t think there’s one team that necessarily pops out, but Orlando definitely needs shooting. Dallas could always use more shooting.

I don’t know if there’s one team where this is a better fit than any other, but in his case, you are coming into the NBA with a pretty well-established skill that I think will translate to some extent early. Now, it’s what can you stack on top of that? How do you become a more dynamic player off the dribble? What can he add to his game skill-wise?

Physically, he’s a big guy and I expect his body will start to fill out. When you are a really good shooter, how many ways can you get to your shot? How do you maximize that skill in terms off the dribble and that type of thing?

That’s what I am curious to see and how he takes that to become a more dynamic, all-around scorer.

What’s Dick’s ceiling? How about a player comp?

Woo: I think it’s conceivable he could be one of the better shooters in the NBA. I think the appeal with him probably has more to do with the floor of being a tall shooter who’s somewhat athletic. …If you look at the skillset of what he’s coming in with, it’s a good baseline to keep getting better.

If you are taking someone in the lottery, there is some room to be a solid starter definitely, but maybe be also be a really impactful scorer. (Still), that remains to be seen.

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson

Draft projection: Early second round to late second round

Woo’s thoughts: Jalen didn’t play particularly well (in the combine). I think if you came into the thing already liking him, I don’t think it will change your opinion much. He didn’t do a ton on the first day of games and on the second day, he was more aggressive but didn’t necessarily play well.

I think with him, he’s got some size and he can shoot. I thought he had a pretty good year. I think he’s in a pretty good spot to get drafted, (but) I don’t know where necessarily. His range is just a little bit wide. Certainly, in the second round, I think.

What is his role at the next level?

Woo: I think that’s part of the question (with him) and that’s the big part of the evaluation. He certainly won’t have the type of usage he got this year. Everybody knows Bill Self is a good coach and puts these guys in a position to win games.

I think that’s kind of the question for him. If you scale back the offensive volume, what is he going to do to stay on the floor and set himself apart? I think that starts with making a lot of shots. Physically, I think he has a good size.

It’s really going to be about honing in to be a more impactful defender if he can. It’s really about reliability and I think that’s probably what in the pre-draft process he’s going to have to convince people.

Again, if you look at the kind of role players (who) can find minutes for in the NBA, oftentimes, it is guys like that who are tall and kind of use them in different ways matchup-wise — defensively and will make a shot here and there. I think he has that (makings) of that type of player.

I think with him, it’s sort of convincing people he can be a supporting player and doesn’t have to be a (star) — I think shot selection is part of the question.

I think he has fans and certainly, with the way the NBA is going, he plays a role and is sort of in demand.