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NBA Draft Stock Watch: February 2011

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Josh Selby looks to the crowd after a KU score during the first half of the Jayhawks' game against the Kansas State Wildcats, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. KU defeated KSU 90-66.

Josh Selby looks to the crowd after a KU score during the first half of the Jayhawks' game against the Kansas State Wildcats, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. KU defeated KSU 90-66. by Mike Yoder

Welcome back to the ‘Hawks in the NBA blog, a semi-regular look at what the former Jayhawks now playing in “The Association” are up to.

Being that it’s the All-Star Break in the NBA — and, yes, Paul Pierce is on the East roster yet again (that makes No. 9 for Pierce) — we’ll kick this year’s blog off with a look at the NBA Draft stock of five current Jayhawks, who, no doubt, someday will be playing pro ball.

Last year, with Cole Aldrich, Xavier Henry and Sherron Collins all likely to get drafted, we did this on a regular basis. The funny thing about it was, even though we kept tabs on the mock drafts out there a couple of times a month, the positioning of these three guys never really changed much. Only Collins’ stock fluctuated, some pegging him as a late first round pick and others late second.

As you all know, Aldrich and Henry were taken back-to-back in last year’s lottery and Collins went undrafted.

Let’s move ahead to this year, when only Marcus Morris entered the season with what looked to be sure-fire, first-round status. That hasn’t changed much. Marcus, as you can see below, still is right on the cusp of the lottery, capable of playing himself up or down with a hot or cold stretch the rest of the way.

As for the other guys on the list — Tyshawn Taylor, Josh Selby, Markieff Morris and Thomas Robinson — their stock has risen and fallen as fast as, well, some of the actual stocks on Wall Street.

Of them all, Selby continues to be the most perplexing. He came to college as a no-doubt, one-and-done player and, as of right now, most people believe he has to stay around for his sophomore season, as he’s dropped, in some mock drafts, from being projected as a lottery pick earlier this season to late first round in 2012. Hard to believe.

With that in mind, we’ll start with Selby and keep regular track of the rest of these guys from now until the NBA Draft in late June.

Here goes...

JOSH SELBY: FR., GUARD, 6-2, 183 pounds
Stock Assessment: Came to Kansas with the reputation as a player likely to be the second one-and-done player in KU history. Sat out the first nine games due to suspension and exploded onto the scene with a monster game against USC in his debut. Since then, Selby’s been on quite a roller coaster, one typical of freshmen.
Average Mock Draft Position: 20th.
Current High: 20th (DraftSite.com and DraftExpress.com)
Current Low: 27th in 2012 Draft (NBADraft.net)
Overall Movement: — Falling — Injuries and missed games have cost Selby his status as a sure-fire lottery pick in this year’s draft. Though he’s played in just half of KU’s games this season, the freshman from Baltimore hasn’t shown the explosiveness that many people expected, nor the ability to take over a game or handle the ball like a true point guard. Having said that, Selby still has time to make a major difference for this KU team. As KU coach Bill Self has stated all year, there’s no one on the roster who can get his own shot the way Selby can. At this point, he just has to get healthy. If he does, his stock has the potential to go up quickly.

MARCUS MORRIS: JR., FORWARD, 6-9, 235 pounds
Stock Assessment: Entered the season as a likely first-round pick with the potential to creep his way into the lottery. The biggest question surrounding Marcus Morris’ pro prospects after his junior season was whether he’d be ready to leave KU if twin brother Markieff wasn’t. Loved by scouts for his ability to handle the ball, hit from the outside and play in the paint, Morris has improved by leaps and bounds during each of his seasons at KU.
Average Mock Draft Position: 14th.
Current High: 14 (NBADraft.net and HoopsHype.com)
Current Low: 15 (DraftExpress.com and DraftSite.com)
Overall Movement: • Holding Steady • Currently sitting just on the cusp of the lottery, with very little range in where he’s projected to go. He’s not going to be the guy NBA teams fall in love with because he’s not an instant superstar. Does have the potential to be a big-time player at the next level and could be in line for a career similar to that of former Jayhawk Drew Gooden, maybe with even more upside. He’s been good this year and done what most scouts expected him to do. Don’t expect him to rise or fall much from this spot the rest of the way. Of course, a monster tournament could always boost his stock.

MARKIEFF MORRIS: JR., FORWARD, 6-10, 245 pounds
Stock Assessment: Entered his junior season as a big-time question mark, at least for NBA scouts. Clearly had the size and strength to reach the NBA, but, because he was strictly a role player during his freshman and sophomore seasons, Markieff was one of the more unknown prospects in college basketball.
Average Mock Draft Position: 24th.
Current High: 20th (NBADraft.net and HoopsHype.com)
Current Low: 32nd (DraftSite.com)
Overall Movement: + On The Rise + Known largely as Marcus Morris’ twin brother, Markieff has played as well and, at times, better than his brother during their third year at Kansas. Some games, his size, strength and mean streak inside have earned Markieff the title of “best player on the court,” and he continues to get better every day. Like his brother, he has what NBA scouts drool over — size and the ability to stroke it. His inside-outside game have moved him into the first round on most boards and, with the most important part of the season still ahead, Markieff has a chance to continue to climb.

TYSHAWN TAYLOR: JR., GUARD, 6-3, 185 pounds
Stock Assessment: Of the Jayhawks with the NBA on their radar, Taylor came into the season as the most difficult to figure out. Because of his length, athleticism and quickness, Taylor has had a tendency to make pro scouts drool over his potential. Think Rajon Rondo. Of course, his careless mistakes and inconsistent play also have inspired scouts to turn the other way at times. The bottom line with Taylor is this; he’s got the physical tools to make the leap to pro basketball. Will he ever be able to obtain the mental game to go along with them?
Average Mock Draft Position: Incomplete (only listed on 2 of 4 boards)
Current High: 38th (DraftExpress.com)
Current Low: Not Listed (HoopsHype.com and NBADraft.net).
Overall Movement: — Falling — Taylor has been on NBA Draft boards for a good chunk of his time at Kansas. And where he’s at right now is a good representation of how that’s gone. One site has him firmly planted as a second-round pick in a spot (38th) where many good players have been taken. The others don’t have him on their boards at all, a clear sign that Taylor’s inconsistent play makes him tough to trust at this point in time. Plan on Taylor coming back for his senior year. But, again, a good tournament could change that.

THOMAS ROBINSON: SOPH., FORWARD, 6-9, 237 pounds
Stock Assessment: The minute Robinson arrived on campus, KU fans knew one thing for sure: This guy was built to play in the NBA. Blessed with an NBA-ready body — even more so than former Jayhawk, Xavier Henry, — Robinson to the NBA was one of those topics that was discussed but never in present terms. Given the chance to play major minutes in a rotation with the Morris twins, Robinson entered the year with a real shot at changing people’s minds about how NBA-ready he was.
Average Mock Draft Position: Incomplete (only listed on 3 of 4 boards)
Current High: 27th (DraftSite.com)
Current Low: Not Listed (HoopsHype.com).
Overall Movement: + On the Rise + Though his name was not found on every draft board, the fact that it was found on a few of them is a testament to how hard Robinson has worked and how much he has improved. If someone made him leave for the NBA right now, there’s no doubt that plenty of teams would scoop him up and like it. The big thing here, however, is the fact that Robinson will have to examine how much better he could get by coming back and how much that would help his stock. The guess here is that another year with Coach Self and assistant Coach Danny Manning would make T-Rob a highly coveted player in the 2012 NBA Draft. Of course, after losing his mother recently, anything’s possible and Robinson now is playing for and thinking about his younger sister and her future as much as his own.

Draft sites used for the player positioning portion of this blog include: NBADraft.net, DraftExpress.com, HoopsHype.com and DraftSite.com.

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