Jun. 23—Among the infinite NBA draft possibilities, there's a scenario in which three Seattle-area prospects are taken in the first round Thursday night by the same team.
The draft gurus are nearly unanimous in projecting the Orlando Magic taking Auburn wing Jabari Smith with the No. 1 overall pick and most mock draft forecasts have Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren being selected No. 2 by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Next, Duke freshman Paolo Banchero, the former O'Dea High standout, is expected to be chosen No. 3 overall by the Houston Rockets.
What happens with the remaining 29 first-round picks is anyone's guess, but ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givony envisions the Rockets using their No. 17th pick on former Garfield High star Tari Eason before nabbing MarJon Beauchamp, who played at Nathan Hale, Garfield and Rainier Beach, with the No. 26 pick.
It wouldn't be a shock if three Seattle-area prospects were taken in the first round considering the city's reputed hoops pedigree and history of churning NBA players.
It happened in 2020, when Washington Huskies freshmen Isaiah Stewart (No. 16) and Jaden McDaniels (No. 28) as well as San Diego State standout Malachi Flynn (No. 29), who spent two years at Washington State and played at Tacoma's Bellarmine Prep, were taken in the first round of the draft.
That year, WSU standout CJ Elleby was also picked in the second round.
And in 2007, UW freshman Spencer Hawes, former Kentwood High star Rodney Stuckey, who played at Eastern Washington, and former Franklin High star Aaron Brooks were drafted in the first round.
"Seattle is one of the hottest beds in the country," college basketball analyst Eldridge Recasner said. "If these guys all get drafted in the first round ... it's just a continuation. I think the first guy who went pro from Seattle was Doug Christie. You think about him, Jamal (Crawford), Nate (Robinson) and Brandon Roy. The list just goes on and on.
"I got to credit a lot of these kids' success to Jamal Crawford and what he does mentoring those kids and letting them run with him. It makes a huge difference. ... These guys are continuing a legacy that he created. I know Paolo and MarJon played in his Pro-Am.
Recasner added: "It seems like every few years, Seattle has some of the best players in the country and this is another one of those years."
To get you ready for the NBA draft, we talked to basketball analyst Francis Williams, Recasner and an Eastern Conference front office executive about the Seattle-area prospects.
Here's what they said.
Paolo Banchero, F, O'Dea High
Duke — Height: 6′ 10" — Weight: 250 — Age: 19 — Freshman
ESPN: 3 (Houston)
CBS: 3 (Houston)
NBAdraftnet: 3 (Houston)
Recasner's take: "I'm not surprised that he could go anywhere from 1 to 3. I would be shocked if he fell any lower than 3. I was just in Houston and ran into John Lucas and the Rockets were working him out. ... Just a fantastic story." He's going to be a top-3 pick in the draft."
Williams' take: "He has everything that the NBA is looking for except maybe that supreme athleticism. He's a good athlete ... but he's not a highflier in comparison to some others. But he's got great size. He's got a great skill set. He has a feel for the game. He has a love for the game, which is very important. I don't think he will shy away from the work."
NBA scout's evaluation: "He should be a future NBA All-Star. So talented and so fundamentally sound. He has the ability to shoot, pass and dribble. He's at his best when he's aggressive and going downhill. ... He could be really special with his intangibles."
Tari Eason, F, Garfield High
LSU — Height: 6′ 8" Weight: 215 — Age: 21 — Sophomore
ESPN: 17 (Houston)
CBS: 23 (Philadelphia)
NBAdraftnet: 15 (Charlotte)
Recasner's take: "A huge surprise. I remember him at Garfield. In Tari Eason's senior year, they defeated O'Dea (High) and Paolo (for the state title). I know when he came out of Garfield he went to Cincinnati. He ended up at LSU. I thought he was the Sixth Man of the Year, so to see his name as high No. 12 in the lottery is a huge surprise. I liked his game in high school. I thought he was really versatile. At 6-7 he could handle the rock. He could post up. He's athletic and can guard multiple positions. But if you would have told me his senior year at Garfield that he was going to be a lottery pick two years later, I would have said you're crazy."
Williams' take: "His athleticism and his toughness are what really put him on the radar when he was at Cincinnati. People picked up on that. When people really figured out his ability and the fact that he was doing this coming off the bench, a lot of people took notice that he wasn't complaining. He was accepting that role. ... He's got some toughness to him. You need that guy who is going to be gritty and get under guys' skin."
NBA scout's evaluation: "Tari was all about energy, defensive versatility. He's someone that can potentially guard 1-5, not to mention was able to shoot at a pretty good clip at 35%. Showed some ball-handling ability off the dribble. Someone that could turn into a two-way player down the road."
MarJon Beauchamp, SG/SF, Rainier Beach High
G League Ignite — Height: 6-7 Weight: 195 — Age: 21 — Sophomore
ESPN: 26 (Houston)
CBS: 27 (Miami)
NBAdraftnet: 32 (Orlando)
Recasner's take: "He'll probably be the best story out of all three of the guys if he does get drafted in the first round because here's a kid that was just lost. I was worried about him because I don't even think he even knew where he was going to play. ... I know his dad Big Beauchamp who was a helluva player back in the day. I'm not surprised his son is good. ... He's got great size. He's 6-7. He can handle the rock. ... He can shoot the ball. He'll attack the rim and dunk on people."
Williams' take: "In terms of will his route become more common? The answer is yes. You see Jalen Green and the success he had. He went No. 2 (in the draft last year). He had a good rookie year. You see Jonathan Kuminga who is projecting to be a superstar with Golden State. As far as MarJon is concerned, I'll have to admit I haven't followed him as closely. He did kind of drop off the radar. He was somewhere in basketball purgatory it seemed like for a while. I didn't know where he was. But to his credit, he put himself in a position that people are paying attention to his talent."
NBA scout's evaluation: "His situation is really unique, but to be fair, his story helps paint how resilient he is and his work ethic. I don't know if we'll ever see a MarJon Beauchamp again. In modern-day basketball where guys get overhyped and lose their composure and how they are and what basketball means to them ... it's guys like MarJon with that background that you really appreciate because he's had to fight to get to this point. I give him a lot of credit."
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