Tournament play vital for Arizona basketball players’ NBA draft stock

As we’ve seen in previous NBA drafts, a player’s performance in the NCAA tournament can be the difference in going pro. Scouts love to see players perform well in these “win or go home” situations. With an assortment of Arizona players on the NBA’s draft radar, these Wildcats will undoubtedly be looking to improve their stock in March.

Aaron Gordon:

AG is currently teetering between the lottery and the mid to late first round of the draft. Gordon will have to leave it all out on the floor in order to secure a spot with one of the NBA’s neediest teams in the lottery. Arizona’s success in the tournament will also be a decisive factor, as Gordon is seen as a major variable for the team. If the Cats make it to the Final Four and Gordon shows off his energetic athleticism, he should be a shoe-in for a top-12 pick.

Nick Johnson:

Johnson is currently projected to be a second round pick at best. A strong tournament outing will solidify his spot in the NBA draft. Despite being a “tweener” at the guard position, the Pac-12 player of the year has a lot to offer an NBA team. Think of Arron Afflalo with better hops; I can see Johnson growing into that type of role in the NBA. Similar to Afflalo, Johnson can guard multiple positions with authority. If Johnson continues to display his well rounded play in the tournament, we could see Adam Silver call his name in the late-first round.

Rondae Hollis Jefferson:

The University of Arizona loves Jefferson and his exciting play-style. Unsurprisingly enough, NBA scouts are drooling over the kid too. While I think Jefferson could dominate next season as a sophomore, theres a good chance an NBA team convinces him to enter the draft.  Right now he’s viewed as a late-first round pick if he decides to leave. If the Wildcats and Jefferson  thrive in the tournament, he could easily rise to a mid-first round pick or even a lottery. If Jefferson decides to stay another year, and performs to his potential, he should be a surefire lottery pick in 2015.  Another year of school would only help Jefferson’s development. With a high ceiling for improvement on the offensive end, Arizona could help him develop an outside shot like they did with Derrick Williams. Like many other Arizona students, I hope Jefferson graces the Dirty T with at least one more season. 

Kaleb Tarczewski:

While Tarczewski appears to still have a lot of mechanics to work on at the college level, a player with an NBA body (7 feet, 235 pounds) always has a chance to get drafted. Tarczewski is currently sitting in between going undrafted and second round of the NBA draft. If he plans on forgoing his junior season at Arizona, he is going to have to have a couple breakout games in the tournament. Tarczewski has already made a lot of improvements to his game this season, but if he gets bullied down low and outplayed by tournament team post players, we will see him in a Wildcat jersey for yet another year.

Ultimately, If Arizona wins a championship or even makes it to the Final Four, theres a good chance all four of these players will attempt to enter the next chapter of their life via the NBA draft.