NBA draft expert rates KU’s Jalen Wilson and Gradey Dick

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson, left, and Gradey Dick watch a teammate shoot a free throw against Iowa State at this year’s Big 12 tournament in Kansas City.


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

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

“It’s definitely a cool acknowledgment (to make fun of a lottery pick),” Dick told The Star in February. “I’m super thankful and thankful for that, but at the same time I’m just doing things that my parents taught me to focus on what I have at hand – not thinking too far ahead and not thinking too far in the past.”

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Now Dick is hyper-focused on preparing for the NBA draft. After all, playing in the NBA has always been a dream for Dick.

His dreams will soon come true with the NBA draft scheduled for June 22.

On Wednesday morning, KU goaltender Kevin McCullar announced he was 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 career prospects.

Kansas guard Gradey Dick

Draft projection: mid-lottery pick.

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

Which team would suit Dick best and what does he need to improve?

Courting: I think a lot of these teams need to fire. I don’t think there’s a team coming out necessarily, but Orlando definitely needs to fire. Dallas could always use more shots.

I don’t know if there’s one team where that fits better than another, but in his case, you come to the NBA with a pretty well-established skill set that I think will translate to some degree early on. Now, what can you stack on top of that? How do you become a more dynamic player outside of dribbling? What can he add to his game in terms of skills?

Physically he’s a big guy and I expect his body to start filling out. When you’re a really good shooter, how many ways can you get to your shot? How do you maximize that skill in terms of dribbling and that sort of thing?

That’s what I’m curious to see and how it takes that to become a more dynamic and versatile scorer.

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

Courting: I think it’s conceivable that he’s one of the best shooters in the NBA. I think the appeal with him probably has more to do with being a somewhat athletic big shooter. … If you look at the skills of what he brings, it’s a good base to keep improving.

If you take someone in the lottery, there’s definitely room to be a solid starter, but maybe also a really hard-hitting scorer. (Again), that remains to be seen.

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson

Projection of the repechage: from the beginning of the second round to the end of the second round

Woo’s thoughts: Jalen didn’t play particularly well (in the combine). I think if you went into the thing already liking it, I don’t think that’s going to 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 has a certain size and he can shoot. I think he had a pretty good year. I think he’s in a very good position to be drafted, (but) I don’t necessarily know where. Its range is just a bit wide. Certainly, in the second round, I think.

What is its role at the next level?

Courting: I think that’s part of the point (with him) and that’s the big part of the assessment. It certainly won’t get the type of use it’s had this year. Everyone knows Bill Self is a good coach and puts these guys in position to win games.

I think that’s kind of the question he’s asking. If you reduce the offensive volume, what will he do to stay on the ground and stand out? I think it starts with doing a lot of hits. Physically, I think he has a good build.

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

Again, if you look at the kind of role players (who) can find minutes for the NBA, a lot of times it’s guys like that who are big and kind of use them in different ways – defensively and will make a hit here and there. I think he has that (the stuff) of this type of player.

I think with him it’s kind of convincing people that he can be a support player and he doesn’t have to be a (star) – I think the shot selection does part of the question.

I think he’s got fans and certainly with the way the NBA is going he’s playing a part and being kind of in demand.

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