Shaka Smart has figured out how to pump out big men to the NBA since arriving in Austin in 2016. He helped get Jarrett Allen drafted in 2017 by the Brooklyn Nets in the first round. The next year, former 5-star Mo Bamba was snatched up by the Orlando Magic with the No. 6 pick.

This year, freshman Jaxson Hayes is drawing NBA buzz.

The 6-foot-11, 220-pounder has averaged 10.5 points and 5.1 rebounds in just over 23 minutes a game. His presence has been felt most around the rim, as he blocks 2.3 shots a contest and shoots 73 percent from two.

Entering Thursday night’s Big XII Tournament quarterfinal with No. 17 (9 p.m. EST, ESPN2), he’s not only looking to help the Longhorns clinch an NCAA Tournament bid. He’s got a chance to boost his NBA Draft profile and stock in front of a national audience.

Let’s take a dive into his prognostications, as well as mock drafts and big boards.

Jaxson Hayes NBA Draft Projections & Mock Draft

Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype featured Hayes in his most recent aggregate mock draft, moving him into the lottery with the No. 12 pick.

Hayes leads the NCAA in effective field goal percentage (75.0 percent) and he also has the best player efficiency rating in the Big 12. According to our research at Synergy Sports, he has been the most efficient player (minimum: 160 possessions) among all Division-I players in the regular season.

He is ready for the next level of competition given the productivity he has had in pick-and-roll action. Hayes has scored 3.2 points per game as the roll man on PnR sets, which trails only five D1 players. Among those with more than 35 opportunities, per Synergy, the big man has been the most efficient player on this play type.

Our own Jon Adams has the Detroit Pistons picking him at No. 15 in his most recent NBA Mock Draft. Jeremy Woo of lists him as the No. 20 overall prospect on his mock draft. While definitely a project, Hayes earns praise for his defensive acumen.

Although he’s inarguably a bit of a project, Hayes’s defensive play has been stellar, especially impressive for a true freshman who entered college with zero hype. He’s mobile, light on his feet and a talented shot-blocker with exceptional timing who should be able to pack on muscle comfortably as he matures. That alone should be enough …read more



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Jaxson Hayes NBA Draft Projections: Mock Drafts for Longhorn Forward

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