JT Thor clarified his professional basketball intentions over the weekend when he signed with an agency and officially ruled out a return to Auburn for his second season. And in the days that followed, Thor’s name made a lot of noise in NBA draft and screening circles.
Thor, a 6-foot-10 forward, is the second start of Auburn’s team’s NBA Draft last season, after the star point guard Sharife Cooper. A freshman sensation despite only playing 12 games, Cooper was widely regarded as a first-round prospect for months, while Thor’s stock was more often seen in the middle second-round range. see you late.
Some NBA Draft pundits and scouts, however, believe that due to Thor’s raw skills and high cap, he could join Cooper in the first round, which would add to Auburn’s streak of NBA Draft success that was already unprecedented by the entire program. had accomplished before.
In one draft mockup earlier this week By Jonathan Wasserman, formerly of NBADraft.net and currently at Bleacher Report, Thor was thrown in front of Cooper in the first round. Wasserman led the big man to the Houston Rockets with the No.23 pick, and Cooper not far behind him at the No.25 Los Angeles Clippers.
“Thor is staying in the draft, and there were conversations between the scouts and the agents about him in the first round,” Wasserman said. “The 6-foot-10 forward has a smooth left-handed shot, while flashes of a pulling play and smooth driving ability suggest greater scoring potential to unlock in the long run.”
After moving up from the 2021 to 2020 class, Thor started all 27 games for the Tigers, averaging 9.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks while playing 23 minutes per night.
Throughout the season, Thor has shown the skills of a pro on both ends of the floor, enough to Bruce Pearl to crown him a future NBA talent.
“He’s one of my best professional prospects – an NBA prospect – because he has the ability to elevate his game,” Pearl said in February. “He’s got the ability. It tells you he’s got the confidence, he’s got the poise. He’s so coachable, so responsible.… He’s got this next level thing.”
ESPN currently has Thor ranked as the No.65 prospect for the upcoming draft and the No.15 forward.
Cooper registers at No.20 overall as a No.3 point guard behind former Auburn player Davion Mitchell, who won a national title a few months ago at Baylor, and that of Florida Tre Mann.
A former five-star prospect, Cooper only played on January 9 due to eligibility issues over undisclosed matters. He immediately became one of the nation’s top freshmen, scoring at least 25 points in five of his 12 games. Cooper had an assists percentage of 51.9%, good for the best of the SEC.
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Auburn has never had two first-round players in the same draft. The last time multiple Auburn players took part in the same draft was in 2000, when Mamadou N’Diaye rose to 26th overall in the Nuggets, and Chris Porter went in the second round to the Warriors.
In Chuma okeke (No. 16 in Orlando in 2019) and Isaac okoro (No. 5 in Cleveland in 2020), Pearl produced back-to-back first-round draft picks for the first time in Auburn history, and that streak isn’t expected to end anytime soon. After Cooper and Thor, new incoming student Jabari smith, the highest-rated rookie to ever sign with Auburn, is already projected in the top 10 picks for 2022.