KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Four Kansas City-area college players are expected to hear their names called Thursday during the 2023 NBA Draft, while two more projected as possible undrafted free-agent signings.
The only first-round lock among the group is Kansas sharpshooter Gradey Dick, a Wichita native who averaged 14.1 points and shot 40% from three-point range with 5.1 rebounds as a freshman in his only season with the Jayhawks.
Dick is widely regarded as one of the top shooters in the draft and likely will be a lottery pick.
Former Missouri star Kobe Brown and former KU teammate Jalen Wilson also are fringe first-round picks.
Both are expected to be selected early in the second round, though some mock drafts include Brown or Wilson as late first-round picks.
Kansas State standout Keyontae Johnson, who started his career at Florida before collapsing during a December 2020 game and missing nearly two seasons, should hear his name called in the second round.
KANSAS CITY-AREA NBA DRAFT PROSPECTS
SG/SF Gradey Dick, Kansas
Height: 6-6 1/4 | Weight: 204
Dick, 19, shot better than 40% from three-point range on 5.7 attempts per game with the Jayhawks, adding 5.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.4 steals. He probably can boost his scoring output (14.1 ppg) at the next level, which is the reason he’s a projected lottery pick.
Dick has NBA athleticism, but it may play better as a small forward than a shooting guard. He’ll need to continue to develop defensively, because he lacks the length and strength to match up with forwards and the quickness to stay in front of NBA guards.
However, Dick finishes plays with an edge. He’s a high-IQ player, who reads the game well and is electric in transition. He can be a rotational, floor-spacing sharpshooter as a rookie in the NBA.
The Athletic: 16
CBS Sports: 10
Sporting News: 9
The Athletic (Vecenie): 11 (Orlando)
Bleacher Report: 11 (Orlando)
CBS Sports: 11 (Orlando)
ESPN: 11 (Orlando)
Ringer: 14 (New Orleans)
Sporting News: 11 (Orlando)
USA Today: 12 (Oklahoma City)
Yahoo: 11 (Orlando)
SF Kobe Brown, Missouri
Height: 6-6 1/2 | Weight: 252
Brown, 23, shot below 24% from three-point range during his first three seasons with the Tigers, but he shot an eye-catching 45.5% as a senior last season in Dennis Gates’ system.
He’s a powerful, long prospect with the ability to guard small and power forwards. In fact, he’s an underrated defender, but it’s going to be that long-range shooting ability — was it a mirage last season or is this who he is — that determines the trajectory of his NBA career.
Brown has a high motor. He’ll bang on the boards and has a good enough handle to play inside and outside with the ability to pass and the power to attack the rim through contact.
Brown was a first-team All-SEC performer after averaging 15.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals last season.
USA Today and The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie both have Brown sneaking into the late first round, which would be a coup for Mizzou.
The Athletic: 30
CBS Sports: 40
Sporting News: 50
The Athletic (Vecenie): 29 (Denver)
Bleacher Report: 43 (Portland)
CBS Sports: 34 (Charlotte)
ESPN: 38 (Sacramento)
Ringer: 54 (Sacramento)
Sporting News: 46 (Atlanta)
USA Today: 25 (Memphis)
Yahoo: 45 (San Antonio)
SF Jalen Wilson, Kansas
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 230
Wilson, 22, was the Big 12 Player of the Year after averaging 20.1 points and 7.7 rebounds last season for the Jayhawks.
He gets knocked for a relatively un-superb three-point percentage (33.7%) combined with a lack of the length and explosiveness typical of a prototype NBA wing.
Wilson makes tough shots, but he doesn’t play above the rim. His willingness to adapt and carve out a role, then excel at it for whatever team drafts him, will be critical at the next level.
Gary Parrish of CBS Sports has Wilson sneaking into the first round at No. 28 to Utah in his final mock draft.
The Athletic: 37
CBS Sports: 45
Sporting News: 37
The Athletic (Vecenie): 38 (Sacramento)
Bleacher Report: 48 (Los Angeles Clippers)
CBS Sports: 38 (Sacramento)
ESPN: 40 (Indiana)
Ringer: 49 (Cleveland)
Sporting News: 43 (Portland)
USA Today: 46 (Atlanta)
Yahoo: 40 (Indiana)
SF Keyontae Johnson, Kansas State
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 239
Two years ago, Johnson may have been a lottery pick. He was the preseason SEC Player of the Year before a heart issue led to his on-court collapse and a nearly two-year absence from the court.
Johnson, 24, put together a fantastic season with the Wildcats after transferring from Florida, then considered a risk but paid dividends. He averaged 17.4 points with 6.8 rebounds and shot better than 40% from three-point range despite limited attempts.
But Johnson also committed more turnovers (106) than he had in assists (77) and saw his two-point field-goal percentage plummet.
With more upside defensively than Wilson, he’s got a chance to stick on an NBA roster for a team looking to add size and strength on the wing.
The Athletic: —
CBS Sports: 54
Sporting News: 46
The Athletic (Vecenie): 49 (Cleveland)
Bleacher Report: 46 (Atlanta)
CBS Sports: 47 (Los Angeles Lakers)
ESPN: 48 (Los Angeles Clippers)
Ringer: 45 (Memphis)
Sporting News: 49 (Cleveland)
USA Today: —
Yahoo: 41 (Charlotte)
SG D’Moi Hodge, Missouri
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 188
Hodge, 24, shot better than 40% from three-point range on more than seven attempts per game and also averaged 2.6 steals per game, which ranked fourth in NCAA Division I.
Originally from the British Virgin Islands, Hodge showed the skills to carve out a three-and-D role in the NBA at the college level, but there’s been little buzz around his NBA Draft stock.
Hodge only played one season with the Tigers after following Dennis Gates from Cleveland State, where he was the Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year.
As a senior with MU, Hodge averaged 14.7 points and 3.9 rebounds with 56 assists and only 27 turnovers in 35 games. He should get a Summer League look, but his future professional career may be overseas if he fails to impress next month in Las Vegas.
The Athletic: 82
CBS Sports: 75
Sporting News: —
Mock drafts: n/a
PG Marquis Nowell, Kansas State
Height: 5-8 | Weight: 160
Nowell’s size — he’s 5 feet, 7 inches — probably will keep him from getting a real shot in the NBA.
Nowell, 24, spent his first three college seasons at Arkansas-Little Rock before transferring to K-State for the last two. He averaged 17.6 points with 8.3 assists and 2.6 steals as a fifth-year senior, authoring a legendary 19-assist performance to set an NCAA record in a Sweet 16 win against Michigan State.
The issue for Nowell, other than his size and age, is that he only shot 35.5% from three-point range. He’d be a liability on defense, especially in the pick-and-roll, and doesn’t have enough shooting ability to make up for it.
Nowell also may find it harder to finish at the rim in the NBA than he did in college, leaving him probably seeking a spot overseas if he wants to have a professional career.
The Athletic: —
CBS Sports: 79
Sporting News: —
Mock drafts: n/a