Indiana Daily Student

IU basketball’s Khristian Lander, Trayce Jackson-Davis projected in 2021 draft

<p>Freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis goes up for a shot against University of Illinois freshman center Kofi Cockburn. Jackson-Davis averaged 13.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game last season.</p>

Freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis goes up for a shot against University of Illinois freshman center Kofi Cockburn. Jackson-Davis averaged 13.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game last season.

The 2020 NBA draft hasn’t taken place yet. Nor has the 2020-21 college basketball season. Yet on Tuesday, Sports Illustrated already released the first edition of its 2021 NBA draft big board.

Incoming five-star point guard Khristian Lander was ranked at No. 17, while rising sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis came in at No. 29. Both are projected as first-round picks, according to the list.

There were high expectations last year for Indiana’s 2019 Mr. Basketball recipient Jackson-Davis entering his freshman year for the Hoosiers. Jackson-Davis responded by putting on a stellar freshman campaign, averaging 13.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game while shooting over 55%. He was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team and was runner-up in the Big Ten Freshman of the Year voting.

After the season, rumors swirled about the possibility of Jackson-Davis leaving for the NBA draft. But, in late April, Jackson-Davis ended the speculation with an announcement that he would return to Bloomington for his sophomore year.

Analysts seem to be high on Jackson-Davis as he moves into his second year at IU.

“Jackson-Davis had a productive freshman year on whole for Indiana and has some definite strengths from an athletic standpoint,” Jeremy Woo wrote in the article.

The glaring weakness of Jackson-Davis is his limited perimeter game. He didn’t show much range outside of the paint last season and the ability to shoot from distance is a trait that NBA scouts are looking for in the evolving modern game.

“His feel is just average, but his motor was consistent and covered for his weaknesses pretty effectively as a freshman,” Woo wrote. “He’s already 20 years old and may need a big leap to move much higher than this, but his NBA bloodlines and overall productivity should get him an opportunity.”

Jackson-Davis will be accompanied in the lineup by Lander this fall. Lander made the decision to forgo his senior year at F.J. Reitz high school and enroll at IU one year early.

Based on the feedback from the early rankings, Lander’s decision may result in hearing his name on draft day after his first year with the Hoosiers.

According to ESPN, Lander currently sits as the No. 25 player in the 2020 class and will have the opportunity to immediately break into the starting lineup for the Hoosiers with his springy athleticism.

“He’s smaller and slight of build, but possesses breakneck end-to-end speed and excels in the open floor and dictating pace,” Woo wrote in the article. “Lander changes speeds and direction effectively off the dribble, which makes his high-end run-jump athleticism impressively functional for a player his age.”

These preliminary mock drafts don’t hold much stock, but it does show that the duo is on the radar of NBA executives. Their actual potential to be drafted will be greatly determined by their performances this season.

If the draft does play out like Sports Illustrated is predicting, it would be the first time that IU would have two players taken in the first-round since Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller were selected in 2013.

There are still heaps of variables before the day of 2021 NBA draft, but the first look appears to be promising for Lander and Jackson-Davis.

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