ESPN, Sports Illustrated have Daniel Gafford in top 20 in NBA draft, but will he leave?

SEC Country reporter Eric W. Bolin will candidly answer your Arkansas Razorbacks sports queries each weekday in our  Mailbag Question of the Day. Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to  @SECCountryHogs or by email to Eric at  ericwbolin@gmail.com.

Question of the Day: Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Funny, I cleaned out my attic a couple weeks back during one of those odd warm days and came across the best possible way to answer this question. Remember those Magic 8-Balls from the 1990s? Shaking that thing for a couple seconds and flipping it to read the answer probably is the best way, right now, to get an answer.

Yet I chose this as the Question of the Day. Brilliant, huh?

The reason I picked it is not to use a lame personal reference about nostalgia or weather or cleaning. The reason I picked it is because earlier Wednesday morning I came across this (which was written Monday) from Sports Illustrated:

Though Portland remains invested in Zach Collins, at this stage of the draft Gafford’s physical potential might be too much to pass up as a long-term project. The Blazers’ crowded cap sheet skews heavily toward perimeter players, and given the overall dearth of NBA-ready bigs in this class, Gafford is a good first-round dice roll.

Portland, by the way, picks No. 18 overall this summer.

One further: Couldn’t find a mock draft from ESPN, but the site’s Insider page has a list of the top 100 prospects for the 2018 draft. Daniel Gafford is even higher on that. He’s 14th. The NBA loves drafting on potential and Gafford is loaded with it.

That, folks, is no joke. Arkansas’ big man is pushing his way closer and closer to the lottery. If he’s a lottery pick, he is going to consider leaving. Given what Arkansas returns — or more specifically, what Arkansas does not return — next season, the Razorbacks are going to be expected to finish the 2018-19 season worse than they finish this season. With or without Gafford.

That isn’t a knock on what Arkansas returns. It’s more what Arkansas loses. Darious Hall is turning into a threat. CJ Jones can shoot. Adrio Bailey has had flashes. Jalen Harris has Division I experience. The freshman class is one of top 20 in the nation. But this is a team that’s going to be picked in lower-middle of the SEC, maybe even with Gafford.

Now, on the other side of the coin, I could not immediately find any other reputable sites that list him as being that close to the lottery. Could be that SI is alone in that boat. The working theory is Gafford would need to be a first-round pick to consider leaving. It’s just that, though: a theory.

More than Moses Kingsley, Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford before him, Gafford’s decision is tougher to get a read on. Macon and Barford didn’t decide to delay a jump to the pro ranks until the last minute. Gafford, however, is harder to get a read on, personality wise.

Magic 8-Ball says …

“Outlook good.”

The post ESPN, Sports Illustrated have Daniel Gafford in top 20 in NBA draft, but will he leave? appeared first on SEC Country.

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