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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Column: Looming draft nears for Clarkson, Brown

The draft is loaded with talent, so why not wait another year?

Feb. 12, 2014

Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown are arguably one of the best backcourt tandems in the NCAA.

They are certainly the two best players on the Missouri roster, scoring the majority of the team’s points per game. Brown leads the team averaging 20.1 points per game, while Clarkson averages just over 18 points.

Both players are juniors and could forgo their senior seasons for the NBA draft, but should they?

Probably, but they could always improve.

This year’s NBA draft class is oozing with talent from Duke’s Jabari Parker, Kentucky’s Julius Randle,and Kansas’ Joel Embiid, making it hard for these guys to stand out and get noticed.

But that’s not stopping them. According to draft analysts Clarkson is projected to go late in the first round, and Brown expected to go early second round.

Both guys are strong athletes and phenomenal shooters, but neither really produces that X-factor the NBA scouts drool over.

Clarkson has commanded the floor well for the Tigers this season, scoring from a variety of areas, making him a versatile combo guard. He has long arms for creating a great jump shot, and he attacks the basket with authority. On the other hand, he’s only averaging 3.3 assists per game.

I was under the impression that the point guard was supposed to be the guy racking up all the assists? But this isn’t completely his fault. The big guys are averaging an abysmal 15 points per game, combined.

Then there’s Brown. He can shoot the lights out of a building; I’ll give him that. The guy is hitting almost 50 percent (47.3) from the arc. His inside game, though, is lacking. He rarely attacks the hoop in the fashion that Clarkson does and instead settles for catch-and-shoot situations, making him a one-dimensional player.

Clarkson and Brown both play solid defense but lack the lateral quickness some of the top prospects have. These are athletic guys, but at 6 feet 5 inches their size is often being called into question. Can they guard the bigger, more physical NBA athletes?

Although these guys may lack some of the raw talent players drafted above them have, they could still make a strong impact for NBA teams. Clarkson improves his case if learns to share the ball and open up lanes for his teammates. Brown improves his case if he shows his tenacity for attacking the rim and shooting off the dribble.

Defense could always get better, but that can be taught. The NBA is eons away from the NCAA, so adjustments could go a long way.

It doesn’t appear Mizzou will find much success with the time remaining in the duo’s collegiate careers. Considering that senior guard Earnest Ross is the only other player scoring respectable points for the Tigers, it might be time for Clarkson and Brown to turn in their stripes.

Another season at Mizzou Arena could certainly be beneficial for both players, but if they finish the season strong, sometimes it’s better to go out when you’re hot, regardless of the draft class.

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