Campus Corner

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Where do Missouri’s Jordan Clarkson, Jabari Brown fit as NBA players?

06/03/2014 5:35 PM

We’re still more than three weeks away from the NBA Draft, but Missouri has two players who probably will hear their named called June 26 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Of course, where Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown land is anyone’s guess.

Both Clarkson and Brown were juniors with the Tigers last season before opting to leave early for the NBA.

It’s a gamble if either or both players slip from the first round, because the contracts for second-round picks don’t come with guaranteed money.

That opens up the possibility of winding up in the NBA Development League, scratching and clawing in obscurity to latch onto an NBA roster.

But Clarkson and Brown are talented enough to stick in the league.

Clarkson, who converted to point guard during the season he sat out after transferring from Tulsa, very likely will be a better pro point guard than he was in college.

He’ll be surrounded by more top-end talent at the other spots on the floor and, if he can improve his three-point shooting, Clarkson will be a nightmare matchup in pick-and-roll situations.

He also has the length and athleticism to become a solid perimeter defender.

Clarkson’s ability to get the rim should continue to be an asset at the next level, but he needs to develop his left hand and show more consistent ability to drive left or NBA defenders will eat him alive.

Meanwhile, Brown is a terrific outside shooter in a league that always needs that skill.

He’s got the strength and build to succeed in the NBA, but he’ll need to become a better ball-handler and improve his defense to stick around long-term in the league.

Still, with Brown’s ability to score the basketball from the perimeter and going to the rim (a skill he developed last season and must continue to develop), he can be an asset for an NBA team. That is especially true if he can improve his mid-range game.

Bleacher Report, in its latest mock draft from Monday, has Clarkson going No. 28 overall as Chris Paul’s backup with the Los Angeles Clippers.

NBA Draft Room pegs both Clarkson and Brown as first-round picks.

The site, which already has a 2015 mock NBA Draft up if you’re into that sort of thing, projects Clarkson to the Miami Heat at No. 26 and Brown to the Clippers two selections later.

Hoops Hype also has Clarkson going to the Heat, declaring the San Antonio native “one of the draft’s biggest sleepers.”

NBADraft.net also slots Clarkson to the Heat with Brown going to Minnesota 44th overall.

Still, the opinions are wildly mixed.

None of CBS Sports’ three analysts envision Clarkson or Brown being selected in the first round, according to mock drafts from May 29.

Both Matt Moore and Zach Harper have Clarkson being chosen No. 39 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers, while Gary Parrish predicts Minnesota will draft him with the No. 53 pick.

Harper pegs Brown at No. 45 to Charlotte, while Parrish has him going at No. 48 to Milwaukee and Moore’s mock sends him to Miami at No. 55 overall.

NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper also doesn’t project either Clarkson or Brown in the first round, which means no guaranteed contract and more of an uphill fight to stick on an NBA roster.

Of course, that mock draft is two weeks old, so Howard-Cooper’s assessment almost certainly has changed.

DraftExpress.com’s undated mock draft has Clarkson going 45th to the Charlotte Hornets and Brown going 48th to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix didn’t have either former Tigers star slated in the first round during his mock draft May 21, the day after the NBA Draft lottery.

Don’t forget, though, Cleveland took Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 overall pick last year and won the lottery again.

Perhaps the Cavaliers with pull another surprise and pick one of the Tigers first. With that franchise, anything can happen.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/todpalmer.

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