Plenty of area players will be watching the NBA Draft with interest on Thursday night, including several Duke Blue Devils who will be there in person at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Three months after local teams played on the Brooklyn Nets’ home court in the ACC Tournament, at least nine players from the state will look to start their pro careers by hearing their names called.
Duke looks to be the most heavily represented on draft night, with four one-and-dones and one senior all being included in at least one mock draft. North Carolina has two accomplished seniors who might hear their name called, and Wake Forest will have a pair of early entries.
Here’s a look at the top local prospects in the draft, as well as where — and if — they’re likely to get the call.
Marvin Bagley III, Duke
The ACC Player of the Year looks to be a near lock as a top-five pick. Mock drafts have him as high as No. 2 to Sacramento (CBSSports.com, SI) and as low as Dallas at No. 5 (ESPN).
While Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton and Slovenian Luka Doncic both appear to be higher on teams’ boards, Duke assistant Jon Scheyer calls Bagley the best player in the draft. “No one had a better college season than he did,” Scheyer said. “When you have a guy who’s done as much as he’s done, people like to poke holes in his game, but when you average 21 and 11 and were dominant on a nightly basis, I think there’s no one better in this draft than him. As good as he is now, I think his future is brighter. He’s going to get better and better. There is no one better than him in this draft.”
Wendell Carter Jr., Duke
The other half of Duke’s big-man tandem should also go in the top 10, with the consensus of mock drafters slotting Carter at No. 8 to Cleveland. SI and ESPN have him going as high as No. 7 (Chicago), however.
“He’s a perfect modern-day five (center) in the NBA,” Scheyer said. “Offensively, he can stretch the court to the 3-point line. He’s a very good shooter with time, and I think that will get better over the next few years. He’s smart. He can pass. He can create. Of course, he’s got moves in the post.”
Gary Trent Jr., Duke
The Blue Devils’ freshman sharpshooter could go near the bottom of Round 1. ESPN and NBA.com both have him going at No. 28 to Golden State, where he would be a perfect fit with the Warriors’ group of outside bombers. Other mocks have him slipping to the second round.
“He’s had that (NBA) mindset ever since he was young,” Scheyer said. “He came in and worked. I think he’s been waiting for this opportunity — this is really nothing new. He’s been around NBA teams for a long time, ever since he was young. People like his maturity. They like his approach to the game. With him and Grayson (Allen), we feel like we have the two best shooters in the draft. That is a huge weapon for him. Teams like his size. Gary’s in a good spot.”
Grayson Allen, Duke
The lone senior of Duke’s five draft prospects is actually slotted as a first-rounder in more mocks than Trent. Forbes has him going to Atlanta at No. 30. SI has him at 28th to Golden State, and CBSSports.com has him at No. 26, to Philadelphia. Allen’s athletic ability and shooting impressed teams at the combine and in workouts, and Scheyer said teams don’t seem concerned about his reputation for dirty play, including his junior year suspension for tripping an opposing player — the third time he’d done that. “I haven’t gotten a single question about that incident,” Sheyer said. “I don’t know if there’s a better shooter in the draft.”
Trevon Duval, Duke
The intriguing freshman point guard is likely to go in the second round. SI has him going to Denver at No. 43. While his playmaking impressed teams, Duval’s spotty outside shooting is a concern.
“With Trevon, it was a work in progress,” Scheyer said. “I think he showed the ability — if you saw him in practice or in a workout, he would shoot the ball very well. It’s just the consistency of doing it every day. I think when he’s at that level and that’s his only job, I think it’s going to improve a lot. The main thing for him is just to gain confidence in it. Believe in it. I think his whole life, when you’re able to get by everybody and get to the rim, you’re not always focused on shooting. I think he’s going to be able to do that and add that to his game.”
Theo Pinson, UNC
The Tar Heel senior was a glue player and do-everything guy who Roy Williams called his best playmaker. He didn’t get a lot of attention in the mock drafts but may hear his name in round two. SI has him listed as the No. 65 prospect in the draft.
Doral Moore, Wake Forest
The big man left Wake early and likely will have to play his way into the league as an undrafted free agent. SI has him ranked No. 82 in the 2018 draft class.
Bryant Crawford, Wake Forest
It was a bit of a surprise when the Deacs’ playmaker decided to remain in the draft after testing the waters. He seems likely to be an undrafted free agent. SI has him ranked No. 87.
Joel Berry II, UNC
The 2017 Final Four Most Outstanding Player has plenty of college accomplishments, but like Marcus Paige before him, the Tar Heel legend will likely have to start his pro career as an undrafted free agent. SI has him ranked No. 95 in the draft class.