In the relative stillness of a losing locker room Saturday evening, seniors Frank Mason and Landen Lucas reflected on the sudden finality of their Kansas careers.
The other three placeholders of Kansas’ starting lineup? To be determined.
Josh Jackson, Devonté Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk are all thought to be at least candidates to test their NBA Draft stock. But in the aftermath of a 74-60 Elite Eight loss to Oregon, none were ready to announce firm plans.
“I just took one of the hardest losses of my life,” Jackson said. “I’m not thinking about that right now.”
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As a near-lock to be a lottery pick, Jackson is the surest of the underclassmen bunch to jump toward NBA waters. Various experts have pegged him as landing in the top five of the June 22 draft after he averaged 16.5 points and 7.2 rebounds during his freshman season in Lawrence.
An announcement revealing anything other than a leap to the pros therefore would come as more than a mild surprise. But Jackson said such a decision would come only after a conversation with family.
The options for Graham and Mykhailiuk, both juniors, are far less certain. A mock draft on the website NBA Draft Express projects Graham to be taken in the second round at No. 50 overall, nine spots before Mason.
That’s if he goes.
“I haven’t even thought about none of that,” said Graham, who missed all seven of his field goal attempts Saturday, including six three-pointers. “I really haven’t even thought about leaving.”
Mykhailiuk offered fewer words Saturday, simply stating, “I don’t know, man. I don’t know yet.”
A recent rule change will allow players such as Graham and Mykhailiuk to better gauge their potential before making the decisions.
Under a rule put into effect before last year’s NBA draft, college players can take part in the draft combine and work out for one NBA team yet still withdraw from the draft. The latter decision must come within 10 days after the combine is over.