Sixty players will join the ranks of NBA teams Thursday night in the league's annual draft, and former Missouri guards Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown are expected to be two of them.
Clarkson, who averaged 17.5 points per game for the Tigers and earned a spot on the All-Southeastern Conference Second Team this past season, figures to be a late first-round pick, according to analysts at NBADraft.net and DraftExpress.com.
The draft will be broadcast live on ESPN starting at 6 p.m. CDT from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Clarkson's size, athleticism and ability to penetrate have led analysts to compare him with 2014 Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams, but improving his right hand reliance, passing ability and 3-point shooting will be essential to his success as a pro, especially if he wants to play point guard.
Clarkson shot just 28.1 percent from 3-point range, and his assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.3 does not compare favorably with other prospects, but he's been working on improve his shooting and passing in pre-draft workouts with trainer Jay Hernandez. Clarkson is represented by Mike George of Excel Sports Management.
Brown, who declared for the draft on April 2 after leading the Tigers with 19.9 points per game and earning first-team All-SEC honors this past season, is expected to be a middle-to-late second-round pick.
Analysts have praised his ability as a shooter, especially from 3-point range, and his ability to draw fouls at the rim. However, concerns were raised about his defensive ability and intensity, and at 6-foot-4, he is small for an NBA shooting guard, leading to worries about his ability to shoot over taller defenders.
"His 3-point shooting will be a necessary skill for him to earn playing time, but he should be able to carve out a niche if he can improve his defense and do a better job of ... creating offense for teammates," DraftExpress' Josh Riddell said in his scouting report.
Brown, like Clarkson, had a poor assist-to-turnover ratio in each of his two seasons with Missouri. Brown is represented by David Lee, who runs his own firm, David Lee Services.
If Clarkson and Brown are selected, Missouri will have had five players selected in the past three drafts. In 2012, Kim English was drafted 44th overall by the Detroit Pistons and Marcus Denmon was selected 59th overall by the San Antonio Spurs. The Phoenix Suns made Alex Oriakhi the 57th pick in last year's draft. English was cut last summer after averaging 9.9 minutes in his rookie season, while Denmon and Oriakhi have yet to crack NBA rosters.
What to watch for at the 2014 NBA Draft
The Cleveland Cavaliers have the No. 1 selection for a second straight year, and either Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker would be an improvement over Anthony Bennett, who had a forgettable rookie season.
Milwaukee picks second, followed by Philadelphia, Orlando, Utah and a couple of teams not used to picking so high: Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers.
This draft will be a deep one. Last year's draft was woefully short on star power, with Bennett hardly alone among high picks who made little or no impact. This class appears to be strong well beyond the first few names, with Julius Randle (Kentucky), Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), Aaron Gordon (Arizona) and Noah Vonleh (Indiana) highlighting some enticing choices from power schools.
"And it's crazy because everybody knows from the top on through 15, the lottery, that it's a lot of talented guys in there and it's deep," Smart said. "But not only that, you can go down to the second round and late first, it's still a lot of great talent in those bottom rankings. So this class is probably, I think is one of the better draft classes to ever have and it shows."
Miami needs a roster upgrade, and Shabazz Napier of national champion Connecticut was aware of an ESPN report that the Heat have targeted him as a player who can provide it. The point guard seemed flattered but didn't know if anything would come of it.
"I definitely worked out with the Miami Heat, so at the end of the day I can't do nothing besides just get ready to figure out who's going to draft me," Napier said.
The 76ers have two top-10 picks and five more in the second round. Phoenix has Nos. 14, 18 and 27, while Orlando (4 and 12), Utah (5 and 23), Boston (6 and 17), Charlotte (9 and 24), Chicago (16 and 19) and Oklahoma City (21 and 29) have multiple first-round selections. Brooklyn, Golden State, Portland and New Orleans currently have no picks.
If the Cavs pass on Parker, he doesn't think it should be because of concerns about his fitness, disputing a reported poor workout for Cleveland.
"If you put a treadmill right here, we can have a contest and we all can judge that," said the 6-foot-8, 235-pound forward, acknowledging surprise at the criticism.
"I'm not no couch potato. I'm not going to flip the channels. I love to play basketball and you can find me playing that almost every day."
Though surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot on top of a late-season back injury appear to have ended Joel Embiid's hopes of going No. 1, the center from Kansas might be hard to pass up by one of the multiple-pick teams because of his potential. Dante Exum, the point guard from Australia, could go right around the same time in the top five.
Missourian reporter Austin Huguelet contributed to this report.