2017 NBA Mock Draft: Predictions for Top Prospects Alive in NCAA Tournament

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2017

Mar 17, 2017; Sacramento, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins guard Lonzo Ball (2) reacts on the court against the Kent State Golden Flashes in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 NCAA tournament is in full swing, and this year's field is packed with prospective NBA talent from all over the country. 

Several prospects who expect to hear their names called in June's NBA draft are still playing in what may be the last chance for scouts and front offices to watch them in a truly competitive setting.

What will big-name players like Lonzo Ball and Jayson Tatum do during the rest of March Madness? Check out the predictions below after you peruse the mock draft:

2017 Mock Draft
1Celtics (via Nets)Markelle Fultz (Washington, PG, Freshman)
2LakersLonzo Ball (UCLA, PG, Freshman)
3SunsJosh Jackson (Kansas, SF, Freshman)
4MagicJayson Tatum (Duke, SF, Freshman)
576ersMalik Monk (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
6Kings (via Pelicans)De'Aaron Fox (Kentucky, PG, Freshman)
7KnicksDennis Smith, Jr. (NC State, PG, Freshman)
8KingsMiles Bridges (Michigan State, SF/PF, Freshman)
9TimberwolvesLauri Markkanen (Arizona, PF, Freshman)
10HornetsJonathan Isaac (Florida State, PF/SF, Freshman)
11MavericksTerrance Ferguson (Australia, SG, 18)
12Trail BlazersJohn Collins (Wake Forest, PF, Sophomore)
13BullsRobert Williams (Texas A&M, PF/C, Freshman)
14PistonsFrank Ntilikina (France, PG, 18)
15NuggetsOG Anunoby (Indiana, SF, Sophomore)
16HeatIsaiah Hartenstein (Germany, PF, 18)
17BucksJarrett Allen (Texas, C, Freshman)
18PacersRodions Kurucs (Latvia, SF, 19)
19HawksJustin Jackson (North Carolina, SF, Junior)
20Trail Blazers (via Grizzlies)Justin Patton (Creighton, C, Freshman)
21RaptorsIke Anigbogu (UCLA, C, Freshman)
22Magic (via Raptors and Clippers)Ivan Rabb (California, PF, Sophomore)
23ThunderTJ Leaf (UCLA, PF, Freshman)
24Nets (via Wizards)Tyler Lydon (Syracuse, PF/SF, Sophomore)
25JazzLuke Kennard (Duke, SG, Sophomore)
26Nets (via Celtics)Jaron Blossomgame (Clemson, SF, Senior)
27Trail Blazers (via Cavaliers)Donovan Mitchell (Louisville, SG, Sophomore)
28Lakers (via Rockets)Zach Collins (Gonzaga, PF, Freshman)
29SpursHarry Giles (Duke, PF, Freshman)
30Jazz (via Warriors)Johnathan Motley (Baylor, PF, Junior)
Picks by Andy Bailey

Lonzo Ball (UCLA, PG, Freshman)

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 09:  Lonzo Ball #2 of the UCLA Bruins sets up a play against the USC Trojans during a quarterfinal game of the Pac-12 Basketball Tournament at T-Mobile Arena on March 9, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. UCLA won 76-74.  (Photo by Ethan Mil
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Despite suffering a bruised hip after a scary fall in the first half, Ball showed off his scoring ability in UCLA's 97-80 victory over Kent State.

He carefully picked his spots all night, finishing 6-of-7 from the field and 2-of-3 from three-point range on the way to 15 points.

And that's a big part of what's so appealing with Ball. He's a patient, almost old-school, point guard who has a great feel for the game and a desire to get teammates rolling.

He managed just three dimes in the first round, though, something that's uncharacteristic for the nation's leader in assists per game.

Expect him to do a lot more setting up of teammates on Sunday, as well as going forward if the Bruins win again.

Josh Jackson (Kansas, SF, Freshman)

TULSA, OK - MARCH 17:  Teammates Devonte' Graham #4 and Josh Jackson #11 of the Kansas Jayhawks react against the UC Davis Aggies during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at BOK Center on March 17, 2017 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  (Pho
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Kansas freshman Josh Jackson has understandably drawn comparisons to Andrew Wiggins throughout his lone season with the Jayhawks.

In Friday's Round 1 blowout of UC Davis, he showed why those comparisons may not be fair...to the freshman version of Wiggins.

In just 23 minutes, Jackson had 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting, seven rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal.

That kind of stat-sheet stuffing has been common for Jackson, and has led to a higher total rebound percentage, assist percentage, steal percentage and block percentage than Wiggins posted at Kansas, per Sports Reference.

Don't be surprised to see Jackson provide more well-rounded games like Friday's as the Jayhawks work their way through the tournament. 

Justin Jackson (North Carolina, SF, Junior)

GREENVILLE, SC - MARCH 17: Justin Jackson #44 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts during their game against the Texas Southern Tigers during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena on March 17, 2017 in
Lance King/Getty Images

Being a junior puts North Carolina's Justin Jackson at a disadvantage against a lot of freshmen NBA prospects, but his sweet shooting stroke and feel for the game has him threatening lottery status as the Tar Heels get their tourney run going.

After shooting just 29.7 percent from three during his first two seasons with UNC, the 6'8" wing is knocking down 38.5 percent of his attempts from deep as a junior. In Round 1 of this tournament, he hit five of eight threes in a 103-64 win over Texas Southern.

It was the start of a redemption tour for Jackson and the Heels, who lost on a buzzer-beater in one of March Madness' most memorable title games in 2016.

"I hope that it's toughened us up," Jackson wrote of the loss in The Players' Tribune. "I think it has. And I know this for sure: It's a daily reminder that Tar Heel Nation has unfinished business. We want a championship."

With absolution on his mind, Jackson will hit plenty more threes before North Carolina is eliminated and we officially start talking about him being in the draft.


GREENVILLE, SC - MARCH 17:  Luke Kennard #5 of the Duke Blue Devils shoots against the Troy Trojans in the second half during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena on March 17, 2017 in Greenville, South
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

There isn't a specific prospect listed for the Duke Blue Devils because Tatum may be leading the most NBA-talent-laden roster in the field.

Tatum has emerged as a near-lock for the top five in the draft since the start of the ACC tournament. In that five-game span, Tatum is averaging 21.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, two assists and two steals.

His teammate, Luke Kennard, has emerged as an intriguing combo guard option who's approaching lottery status. Questions about his athleticism don't seem as pressing when you spot his .631 true shooting percentage, per Sports Reference.

Then there's Grayson Allen, whose slow start sent him to the bench in February. Since the demotion, though, Allen seems to have rediscovered his swagger from years past.

"In the past week or so, Allen has taken it all in stride, and Friday night he appeared to be the consummate teammate and student-athlete," Jonathan Jones of Sports Illustrated wrote following Allen's 21-point opening round performance.

That game capped off a seven-game stretch as a reserve in which Allen averaged 11.9 points and shot 50 percent from deep.

Finally, Duke also boasts Frank Jackson, a top-flight point guard recruit from Utah. He hasn't been quite the creator for others many expected, but his explosive scoring ability makes him an X-factor alongside the rest of Duke's scorers.

With all that talent on one roster, it took the Blue Devils some time to find their chemistry. But an ACC tournament victory is evidence they're peaking at the right time. Now that they seem to have figured out playing with each other, another deep run for coach Mike Krzyzewski seems inevitable. 


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