There is a lot of talk around college football bowl season surrounding if players will play or go to the draft. Those same conversations can happen in the world of hoops too.
Most recently, Arkansas Razorbacks big man Daniel Gafford has announced he will be skipping the NIT tournament in favor of draft preparation, per Jeff Goodman.
Arkansas big man Daniel Gafford will leave for the NBA … and skip the NIT. It’s the right move.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) March 18, 2019
So, the question becomes, where will Gafford get drafted? After all, if a player is skipping a tournament to focus on the draft, the hope is that he would get drafted.
In the pre-tournament mock draft released earlier today on The Athletic, Gafford is projected to go 27th overall to the Brooklyn Nets. Sam Vecenie, the writer, says that Gafford brings exactly the kind of rim protection and post up play that the Brooklyn likes to get out of their centers.
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson is very supportive of the decision his big man is making. In fact, he is grateful that Gafford was even around to play this past season according to Scottie Bordelon of Whole Hog Sports.
“He could have left last year and had an opportunity, but he came back, developed and got better and I think he's going to be a first-round draft pick,” Anderson said.
Things would be different if this were not the NIT. Players don't sit out of March Madness. However, in this case, Gafford is trying to cling on to a late first round draft projection. It might suit him better to do a few things to prepare, rather than play on a small stage. We will find out if this was the right decision on draft day.