Two Gators could be selected in NBA Draft

Two Florida players surprised most when they announced their intentions to leave early and enter the NBA Draft, but both could hear their name called on Thursday night.

Michael Frazier and Chris Walker saw their careers go different routes at Florida.

For Frazier, it was all about production. He was one of the most feared three-point shooters in the country during his first two years at Florida. During his sophomore year, Frazier set the school record for three-pointers made in a season (118) and in a game (11 at South Carolina).

There are plenty of question marks around his game in the NBA. Can he defend shooting guards at that level? Can he create his own offense? Can he put the ball on the floor and get to the rim? Those questions remained after Frazier’s junior year at Florida.

But the one tool he has is so elite that he should hear his name called in the second round on Thursday. NBA teams know he can shoot the three, and that makes him a valuable commodity.

“He’s going to get drafted for one reason, and that’s because he can shoot the basketball, and he shot it well at Florida,” ESPN NBA Draft expert Chad Ford said. “He’s a specialist in the NBA. The trouble that teams have with him are much more about lack of size for position. I think there was some initial enthusiasm over Frazier. I know some of the analytics models like him, and I think coming into the combine there was a feeling that this is a guy that maybe could sneak into the late first round just because he shoots the basketball so well. I think a lot of that has died out.

“I think as he’s got into workouts and teams have seen him, I think they’re struggling with his lack of size for position and who he’ll guard at the next level. I think he’ll be drafted, but I think he was one of the underclassmen that had some hopes if he caught fire he might be able to slip into the 20s in this draft, and instead I think he’s probably more in the 35 to 50 range.”

Walker’s career was about his athleticism and frame. He came to Florida with a reputation as a shot blocker and highlight dunker. While he provided some of those during his year and a half at Florida, Walker didn’t come close to fulfilling expectations that made him a five-star recruit.

There’s still a chance Walker could hear his name in the second round.

“It’s so crazy,” Ford said. “Look, when you talk about checking some boxes, Chris Walker has elite size for his position, and he’s an elite, elite athlete for his position. He just doesn’t know how to play basketball. You probably saw that at Florida, and teams want to love him because you want guys with his size and his athletic ability.

“They want to be on board with guys like Chris Walker, but his workouts, they haven’t been great, and I think that the most likely scenario for him is that he goes undrafted, will get invites to Summer Leagues, will get invites to training camps, teams will still watch him, but I think the best thing for him is either to get to the D-League or get overseas and just start getting minutes, start getting regular minutes somewhere and learn the game. The physical tools will always be there, now it’s catching up on the skill side."


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