As expected before the season started, Colorado Buffaloes star forward Jabari Walker will test the NBA Draft waters this offseason.
Walker announced on Wednesday that he is entering the NBA draft while retaining his college eligibility. That means he will likely participate in pre-draft scrimmages, work out at the draft combine and meet with teams.
If he impresses teams, receives some of a promise, or anything in that line, he will probably keep his name in the draft. If he struggles for any reason, doesn’t like his projected draft slot, or if NBA teams say he needs to work on different parts of his game, he would probably come back to Boulder.
As of now, Walker is projected as a mid-to-late second round pick. He’s ranked 47th on Tankathon, 49th on Sam Vecenie’s latest big board and is the 58th pick in ESPN’s most recent mock draft. There’s plenty of room to build up his draft stock, especially if he tests well at the draft combine.
There’s an argument that Walker has proven everything he can at the college level, at least with his particular play style. He’s a good face up scorer whose aggression and energy makes him difficult to stop. He’s also as a quality shooter with potential to space the floor and is a solid defender and rebounder despite not having elite athleticism. Teams will value his age, too, since he’s still 19 and is actually younger than many freshmen in the draft class.
The downside to his game is that he’s a bit undersized and might not hold up as a perimeter defender. His shooting has been good, but it’s still a question mark, and his offensive game is relatively unpolished despite his production. Teams might see him as having a limited ceiling and question how his game translates against NBA-caliber athletes.
It would be the best thing for Jabari to build his stock towards the late first or early second round and keep his name in the draft. If he stays around where he’s projected, we can hope to see him back, especially if NBA scouts give him concrete things to work on for the next draft cycle.