Lauri Markkanen is picked to be a lottery pick according to mock drafts, with Sports Illustrated predicting he’ll go as the No. 3 choice.

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star

If the NBA draft has become mostly a game of potential, then the Arizona Wildcats probably fit right in this year.

While only a handful of this year’s draftees are expected to make a significant impact in the NBA next season, just about everybody else is in a developmental stage — and that includes UA’s one certain draft pick, forward Lauri Markkanen.

Of UA’s other three draft prospects, athletic combo guard Kobi Simmons and mobile big man Chance Comanche have the kind of upside that could warrant a late pick or a two-way contract between the NBA and D-League, but neither is projected to make an NBA roster anytime soon.

And even 24-year-old Kadeem Allen may need time in the D-League to further develop his defense and point guard skills before getting a realistic shot at the NBA.

That’s the way it goes with so many other prospects, too.

“It’s a baseball draft,” ESPN basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla said last week. “For the most part, teams are drafting on potential and for the future.

“To me, the two top guys still remain (Markelle) Fultz and (Lonzo) Ball, very mature young players who are going to have an impact I think. And then from three down to nine or 10, you’ve got a combination of three more point guards, a couple of outstanding wing players in (Josh) Jackson and (Jayson) Tatum, and then after nine or 10, you’re going to see a run of talented but incomplete young big men.”

Markkanen appears to be one of those young big men. The 20-year-old Finn has a unique combination of size and shooting ability that warrants a lottery pick but still may need time to gain strength and further grow the rest of his game before he makes a significant impact.

“He has to go to a place that values what he’s going to do, and that is stretch the floor from the perimeter,” Fraschilla said. “Physically, he’s not going to be ready to bang with NBA veterans inside. So I would think that you are looking at a guy that is somewhat of a project but only from the standpoint of had he stayed around for two, three, four years — like he would have 15, 20 years ago — he would be more ready to help a team. But it doesn’t mean he isn’t going high.

“He will go high — especially because his particular skill set suits the modern NBA, a big man that can stretch the floor and make shots.”

If any other UA prospects are drafted, it won’t be until the second round. Although Simmons, Comanche and Allen are all rated among the top 120 prospects by Draft Express, none are listed in the scouting site’s latest mock draft.

“Lauri’s the one I can speak on,” UA coach Sean Miller said, when asked about his players’ draft prospects last month. “I think he’s a no-brainer lottery pick. Where that falls I don’t know. … His nine months went by way too fast but he’s a fantastic kid, did a fantastic job academically and we’re really proud of him.

“It’ll be a great day to see him be a part of the NBA.”

Here’s a look at each of Arizona’s four prospects heading into Thursday’s NBA draft:

Lauri Markkanen

Age: 20

NBA position: Power forward

Projections: 3 (Sports Illustrated), 6 (CBS), 7 (Draft Express, ESPN), 10 (, 11 (

Game: Stretch-four shooter with 7-foot size

2016-17 stats: 15.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 42.3 3-point%

What happened at UA: The Finnish big man delivered on high expectations especially behind the 3-point line, where he shot a stunning 50.5 percent through the end of January — but then made just 16.1 percent of his 3s in the final nine games of the regular season. He did improve around the basket during the shooting slump, however.

Draft Express analysis (from May 15, 2017): “Markkanen’s intrigue as a prospect isn’t difficult to see on first glance. Looking every bit of his listed 7-0, 230 pounds, he has great size for a power forward. A fluid, coordinated athlete who lacks a degree of explosiveness, length and physical strength, despite his improved, muscular frame, the 19-year-old forward will need to continue to get stronger but has a nice mix of tools to complement his advanced skill set on the offensive end.”

Kobi Simmons

Age: 19

NBA position: Point guard

Projections: 60 (, not listed (Draft Express, CBS)

Game: Athletic combo guard

2016-17 stats: 8.7 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 2.0 apg, 32.7 3-point%

What happened at UA: Simmons excelled at times over the first half of the season, playing key roles in wins against Michigan State and at UCLA, but fell out of the rotation after Allonzo Trier emerged after a half-season suspension.

Draft Express analysis (from June 12, 2017): “Simmons isn’t a refined point guard at this point in his career but an NBA team may very well take a chance on him in the draft because of his physical tools and long-term upside. At 6-4 with a 6-6 wingspan, Simmons has solid size to slide into either guard position depending on how his skill set develops … while Simmons has some experience playing either guard spot, he is much more comfortable as a scorer than as a distributor or facilitator. He has an excellent top speed in the open court and a quick first step to get past his defender while also having the explosiveness to play above the rim. He will need to learn to harness his athleticism as his career progresses, as he has a tendency to play out of control with the ball at top speeds.”

Kadeem Allen

Age: 24

NBA position: Point guard

Projections: Not projected to be drafted

Game: Defensively minded combo guard

2016-17 stats: 9.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.0 apg

What happened at UA: Allen transitioned from a high-scoring junior college guard into a rugged combo guard who took on more of a defensive mindset at Arizona, playing point guard out of necessity more often than anticipated. He was initially expected to play entirely off the ball as a senior last season but was summoned again to the point after Simmons did not stick there as an alternative to Parker Jackson-Cartwright.

Draft Express analysis (from Sept. 18, 2016): “While Allen is not yet a finished offensive prospect, his potential defensive role is much clearer to NBA teams. Sporting an excellent combination of physical tools at the guard position, he utilizes his quickness and length well to pressure the ball outside the 3-point line. He accepts the tough defensive assignments with the ability to guard several positions by leveraging his lateral quickness, wingspan and strength.”

Chance Comanche

Age: 21

NBA position: Power forward

Projections: Not projected to be drafted

Game: Mobile post player with upside

2016-17 stats: 6.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg

What happened at UA: The athletic big man improved as a sophomore but was never able to break into the starting lineup – playing behind Kaleb Tarczewski and Dusan Ristic as a freshman, and behind Ristic as a sophomore last season. He played one of his best games, with 13 points and seven rebounds, at Washington last season when Ristic was out with a sprained ankle. He probably would not have started next season, either, with Ristic returning and top recruit DeAndre Ayton arriving.

Draft Express analysis (from Sept. 18, 2016): “Listed at 6-11 with a wingspan that stretches over 7 feet, Comanche has size and length that is easily projectable at the professional level. … While there were questions surrounding his lack of bulk (as a freshman in 2015-16), the same cannot be said for his mobility and overall athleticism. Comanche moves very fluidly for a guy his size, gets up and down the floor well and has the explosiveness to finish above the rim in space with ease.”

Sportswriter for the Arizona Daily Star covering Arizona Wildcats basketball