Texas Longhorns forward Kai Jones could become the 10th former Texas Longhorns player selected in the lottery during Thursday’s 2021 NBA Draft at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Forward Greg Brown, guard Matt Coleman, and forward Jericho Sims are also eligible for the draft.
First-round coverage begins at 7 p.m. Central on ESPN and ABC, with second-round coverage available on ESPN.
If Jones comes off the board early, he’ll become the first lottery pick for the Longhorns since center Jaxson Hayes was selected No. 8 by the New Orleans Pelicans in 2019. Texas is one of five schools, along with Alabama, Duke, Kentucky and Vanderbilt, to have lottery picks in two of the last three drafts, and one of nine schools with a first-round selection in three of the last four drafts.
Since the draft began in 1947, 45 Longhorns have heard their names called.
Sophomore F Kai Jones, No. 19, Charlotte Hornets
A track standout in his youth in The Bahamas, Jones both had a late growth spurt and started playing basketball relatively late, meaning that he’s still on the early part of his growth curve.
Raw but tremendously athletic at 6’10, 221 pounds, Jones has high-level speed in the open court and an improving Euro step to finish in transition or in the halfcourt. As a scorer, Jones took a big jump as a sophomore, showing flashes of a mid-range game, hitting 38.2-percent from three-percent range, and finishing with efficiency around the rim. Shot selection was an area where Jones improved the most, showing a high-level understanding of what he could do effectively and the type of shots he needed to avoid.
Defensively, Jones has the upside to guard multiple positions on the perimeter, though he does need to continue getting stronger to hold position around the basket. Jones finished third on the team in blocks (24) and fourth on the team in steals (22), so he has some ability as a rim protector and as someone who can jump passing lanes. An area for growth is learning to limit fouls so he can stay on the court.
As a rebounder, he was inconsistent at times with his motor, especially defensively, but with more consistent effort, he has the tools to be effective on the glass on both ends of the court.
The Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year, Jones would benefit from an organization with a clear view of how they want to use him and how they believe he can develop. If he reaches his significant upside, he’ll have an impressive NBA career.
F Jericho Sims, No. 48, Atlanta Hawks from Miami Heat
At 6’10 and 245 pounds with a 7’3 wingspan, Sims helped himself tremendously at the NBA Combine in June, registering a max vertical of 44.5 inches that ranked third in event history and showing off the rim-running ability and defensive versatility that helped him average 9.2 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game as a senior.
Due to some minor injuries and competition at his position, Sims was inconsistent through much of his first three seasons at Texas, in part due to his mental makeup — there aren’t any red flags with Sims, he’s just not a player with a high level of confidence and he didn’t always have the mental toughness to bounce back from poor starts.
But Sims is an excellent finisher on the pick and roll with some semblance of a post-up game. He’s not a shooter, however, and struggled at the free-throw line, even after switching from his left hand to his right hand after his sophomore season, only hitting 52.4 percent during his career.
Where Sims has the most upside is defensively. He’s only a solid shot blocker, but his length and lateral quickness on the perimeter allow him to switch on smaller defenders and shut them down — he’s a strong fit in defensive schemes that rely on switching every screen.
F Greg Brown, No. 53, Philadelphia 76ers (from New Orleans Pelicans via Dallas Mavericks)
A Texas legacy from the Austin area who ranked as the No. 9 player in the 2020 recruiting class, Brown arrived on the Forty Acres with high expectations, before turning in an inconsistent and disappointing freshman season that nevertheless featured some impressive flashes. Always intent on entering the NBA Draft after one season, Brown opted to declare for the draft instead of returning and attempting to improve his draft stock.
A high-flying athlete, Brown showed little fear in trying to dunk on opponents and contesting shots at the rim, though he projects as a wing at 6’9, 205 pounds. Likewise, Brown was never afraid to let it fly from the perimeter despite a tough start — he ended his year at Texas shooting 33 percent from three-point range.
Late in the season, turnovers were such an issue for Brown that became virtually unplayable, showing poor decision-making and a questionable handle, a common theme for him as a freshman. His preference for driving left made him easy to defend and often put him in awkward positions needing to use his off hand if got close to the rim without turning it over.
Generally known as a good teammate and a hard worker who asked good questions and listened, Brown let his frustrations get the best of him late in his Texas career and needs to gain maturity, particularly in understanding how to play with a more consistent motor.
If Brown can become more comfortable driving to his right and mature quickly, he could be a second-round steal.
G Matt Coleman, UDFA
The Virginia product had an impressive career at Texas, starting all four years he was on campus and leading the team in assists each season. A strong leader with a big personality, Coleman improved each season as a scorer, eventually turning his three-point shooting from a liability into a strength, hitting at 37.7 percent as a senior.
But Coleman is old for this draft class at 24, he doesn’t have ideal size for the position at 6’2, and he doesn’t have high-level athleticism to finish around the rim, though he does have strong quickness that helps him defensively.
Coleman should have a long professional career, but it’s unlikely to be in the NBA unless he manages to prove himself overseas or in the G League first.