2023 NBA Draft: Jalen Wilson of Kansas turns pro after winning Big 12 Player of the Year as a redshirt junior


Kansas forward Jalen Wilson is signing up for the NBA Draft after winning Big 12 Player of the Year for the 2022-23 season, he announced Wednesday. Wilson led the Big 12 in scoring and rebounding, as he helped lead the Jayhawks to a Big 12 regular season title and a No. 1 ranking in the NCAA tournament as a redshirt junior.

Although the Jayhawks’ season ended with a surprise loss to No. 8 Arkansas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Wilson’s emergence as the team’s main offensive option following a spate of exits from KU’s 2022 title team helped to secure the program on or near. the top of the sport for much of the season.

Wilson was in the Kansas program for four seasons, but would likely have had two more seasons of college eligibility after being redshirted in 2019-20 and because his redshirt season in 2020-21 did not count towards anyone’s eligibility amid the COVID-19 pandemic . But after being part of a national title team and proving this past season that his chops are a primary option, the timing makes sense for Wilson to test his mettle at the next level.

At six feet tall, he has the frame and offensive play to play on the wing in the NBA, and he’s already 22, which makes him old for a pro prospect.

Jalen Wilson’s NBA Draft projection

The blow to Wilson going into the 2022-23 season was having to improve his outside shot after shooting just 26.3% from outside the arc for the Jayhawks during the 2021-2022 title run. He increased that figure to 33.7% last season with 5.8 tries per game, which was an encouraging sign given how much KU relied on him to provide offense. In the long run, it’s easy to picture Wilson as a 35% 3-point shooter in the NBA on a low-to-medium volume diet.

Ultimately, his physicality as a driver and mid-range chops should make him a useful offensive option as a wing or stretch four. Although not a top athlete, he possesses the right combination of size and agility to defend multiple positions and is strong enough to work in the margins against smaller defenders to create quality offensive looks.

Wilson is ranked #42 in CBS Sports’ 2023 NBA Draft Prospect Rankings. He landed at number 27 in a recent mock Kyle Boone.

“It has improved from 3-point reach and remains one of the best rebounding wings in the sport,” Boone wrote. “Not quite 3-and-D – the 3-point shooting may not be a reliable weapon for him just yet – but someone who can bring energy and versatility like a rotating piece.”

Implications for Kansas

Wilson went through the preliminary NBA Draft process last season before opting to return to Kansas. Coach Bill Self probably understood that this would be his last season in the program and is currently well versed in rebuilding his lineup each season. The Jayhawks welcome the nation’s No. 6 recruiting class, with four perimeter players. If a few of the incoming freshmen are ready to contribute substantive minutes and Kanas can make a few quality additions through the portal, the Jayhawks should be back at or near the top of the Big 12 next season.

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