Tonight’s NCAA championship won’t offer the epic matchup between Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor that would have taken place if Wisconsin hadn’t beaten Kentucky on Saturday, but Towns and Okafor still have a score to settle when it comes to the No. 1 overall pick. The centers are the leading candidates, and it seems as if it’s a close call among NBA executives and scouts. The same is true among SI.com’s panel of experts, who narrowly favor Towns. However, it’ll be Okafor with a chance to make a statement on a grand stage tonight. Here’s more on the draft:
- Scouts have compared Okafor to Al Jefferson and, less optimistically, Carlos Boozer, Pete Thamel of SI.com writes, calling Towns a less perimeter-oriented LaMarcus Aldridge.
- Duke small forward Justise Winslow would be in the running to become the No. 1 overall pick if not for the presence of Towns and Okafor, as one Eastern Conference GM tells Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops, praising the freshman’s versatility and upside. Winslow will go head-to-head tonight against Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker, another fast riser during the NCAA Tournament, as Scotto details, echoing an earlier dispatch from Chad Ford of ESPN.com.
- Combo forward Ben Simmons made an impression on NBA personnel like no one else during practices for the McDonald’s All American Game last week, as Chris Mannix of SI.com chronicles. One NBA GM called Simmons, a 2016 draft prospect, “an absolute stud,” Mannix relays. Simmons is No. 2 behind small forward Jaylen Brown on Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress 2016 mock draft.