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NBA Mock Draft 2017 round-up: Tar Heel edition

As the NBA Draft approaches, let’s see where outlets are starting to settle regarding Tar Heel hopefuls.

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The quartet of Justin Jackson, Tony Bradley, Isaiah Hicks, and Kennedy Meeks will be hoping to hear their names called on Thursday night at the NBA Draft. The expectations for each of them are clear and different: Jackson will almost certainly be the first upperclassman (as in proper upperclassman, not this weird new definition some people are using that includes sophomores) selected, and his stock has generally been somewhere in the teens.

Tony Bradley, who surprised many by declaring for the NBA Draft despite being a fairly under-the-radar freshman sixth man, is hoping for a late first round selection but has been mocked anywhere from there to early-mid second round. The other two are considered borderline draft picks, so it’s anybody’s guess as to whether they will be drafted or not. Fortunately, some people have a bit more information with which to make those guesses than we do, so let’s take a look at what they’re saying.

  • DraftExpress, one of the more respected NBA Draft analysis sites, has finally settled on Jackson at 14 to the Miami Heat after projecting him anywhere between 12th and 16th throughout this offseason. They have Bradley at the top of the second round, going to the Phoenix Suns at pick 32. Neither Meeks nor Hicks is listed in DraftExpress’ mock, but it should be noted that Hicks is #60 on their Top 100 Prospects list (Jackson is 16th and Bradley is 40th), which means that they give him a chance to be drafted. Meeks is given much less of a chance, sliding into the bottom of their list at #92.
  • NBADraft.net is lower on both of the top Tar Heel prospects, slotting Jackson at pick 19 to the Atlanta Hawks and Bradley at 39 to the already big man-heavy Philadelphia 76ers. The fits make substantially less sense than those of DraftExpress, but it is what it is.
  • Gary Parrish of CBS Sports seems to have Michael Jordan on the brain when he thinks about UNC prospects. He mocks Jackson to the Chicago Bulls at pick 16, but as the Bulls are in need of an outside threat, this makes sense if Jackson lasts this long. Parrish also puts Bradley at the very top of the second round to the Charlotte Hornets at 31, which, given who is near the top of the Hornets organization (and the Hornets franchise’s several Tar Heel connections), is an unsurprising prediction, even if the Hornets are fairly set at the post positions.

CBS Experts as a whole are much lower on Hicks than DraftExpress is, putting him at #80 in their prospect rankings. Somewhat surprisingly, however, Kennedy Meeks is all the way up at #55.

  • Fox Sports has only mocked the first round, and has Jackson sliding all the way to pick 20, finally being picked up by the Portland Trail Blazers. While the fit makes sense, the explanation does not:

[Jackson] has fairly significant "bust potential," which is why the former Tar Heel could fall outside the late lottery.

Jackson has been repeatedly praised by multiple outlets as “plug-and-play,” “safe,” and generally scheme-versatile because he moves so well without the ball. This criticism simply does not make sense.

Their prospect rankings have Bradley at #24 (yet drafted outside the first round), Hicks at #59, and Meeks outside the top 80.

  • WalterFootball, which, contrary to the site’s name, covers all sports, mocks Jackson at 13 to the Denver Nuggets and Bradley to the Boston Celtics at 37.
  • And finally, Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated joins Fox Sports in mocking Jackson to the Trail Blazers at 20, knocking him down for his lack of shooting ability in his first two years while simultaneously calling him a “safe” pick. Bradley goes at 33 to the Orlando Magic, praised as a “first-round caliber talent” in the blurb.

Final ranges: Jackson 13-20, Bradley 31-39. We’ll see what happens on Draft Night.

The NBA Draft begins at 7:00 Eastern Time today and can be watched on ESPN. More information can be found here.