Jabari Brown, Jordan Clarkson both noncommittal on NBA draft prospects

Sunday, March 23, 2014 | 7:55 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA – Down to the very end, Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown couldn't help reminding people of each other. 

The similarities between the two have mounted in their first year on the court together. 

Clarkson and Brown are the same height. They almost average the same number of points. They both played this season dealing with the fact that their fathers had been diagnosed with cancer. 

Both are projected picks in the upcoming NBA draft after spectacular individual seasons.

And Sunday night, after Missouri's season-ending 71-63 loss to Southern Mississippi in the second round of the NIT, the roommates and best friends both denied having made any decision on whether they will be Tigers next season.

"I'm not thinking about that right now," Brown said when asked at the post-game news conference, his stiff-lipped coach Frank Haith lurking to his left. "We just lost, that's the only thing on my mind right now."

"I really haven't thought about it recently," Clarkson said later at his locker. 

Players have until one day before the national signing period beings — April 16 this year — to declare for the June 26 NBA draft in New York City.

Consensus on online mock drafts is that both Clarkson and Brown are middle-second round picks, with some placing Clarkson in the first round as recently as a month ago. 

If both Clarkson and Brown leave, like Phil Pressey did last year, Haith will be left with just two returning starters because senior Earnest Ross will have graduated, as well. The return of either of them has to be considered a lucky break. The return of both: icing. 

"I thought Jordan made great strides this year, but he still has to grow here," Haith said. "We will talk to those guys. I want them to get good information. A lot of kids don't get good information. Both kids and their families will allow that to happen.

"And they will make decisions that is best for them and their families. Hopefully we will be a part of that process."

Brown's mother, Fannie Brown, confirmed over text message Sunday that her family has yet to make a decision on her son's next step. She is looking forward to him being home for the rest of spring break. It will be the second time Jabari Brown is able to go home to Oakland, Calif., after learning of his father's cancer diagnosis on a short trip over the winter. The Southeastern Conference star was only home for a couple days before heading back to Columbia for basketball.  

"They've had things personally that have affected them in a big way," Haith said when asked for a sort of season-summarizing comment on the play of Brown and Clarkson.

Brown has wanted to play in the NBA since he threw down his first dunk, in the eighth grade. Clarkson transferred from Tulsa two years ago for better competition and better exposure. 

But when asked about their futures after Sunday's loss, both balked.

"I don't know," Brown said, when asked if this was his last game at Missouri.

"No," Clarkson said, when asked if he's thought about the decision at all. 

Depending on their decisions, the guards might have showed fans one last reminder of their similarities Sunday night. 

What might have been the last shot Clarkson ever hit in a Missouri uniform was a runner from the left side of the lane. What may have been the last shot Brown took was an almost identical runner, in traffic, from the left side of the lane as well. 

One fell. One didn't. 

Supervising editor is Sean Morrison.


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