Mike Schmitz has had a busy couple of days.
The DraftExpress scout and Arizona alumnus arrived in Salt Lake City on Thursday for the first-round of NCAA Tournament games, flew to Sacramento, California, at 6 a.m. on Friday to catch more hoops, flew back to Salt Lake on Saturday and will return to California’s capitol on Sunday.
See, both NCAA Tournament sites are filled with highly regarded NBA prospects. Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen, Saint Mary’s Jock Landale, UCLA’s Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf, Oregon’s Dillon Brooks and Jordan Bell and Creighton’s Justin Patton lead the pack.
Schmitz has been high on Markkanen since before the season. The scout watched plenty of UA games and attended last week’s Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.
About that shooting slump Markkanen dealt with late in Pac-12 play … no big deal.
“Not for me, man,” Schmitz said.
He said Markkanen’s struggles have been easy to explain, between his own approach and the UA’s balanced offensive approach.
“He’s not a passive guy, but he likes to play within the flow of the game,” Schmitz said. “I think he doesn’t have a gunner mentality. If he misses a few, he’s going to make the right play and try and get other guys involved.”
Saturday, Markkanen went 15 minutes between his first and second shot attempts, though he did take four free throws during that span. He later picked up the pace. The Finnish freshman finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds and had his best defensive performance of the season, getting two blocks and one steal.
DraftExpress projects Markkanen as the No. 7 pick in the upcoming NBA draft.