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SALT LAKE CITY — Kyle Kuzma signed with an agent and Frank Jackson announced his own signing last Friday, so two basketball players with ties to the Beehive State will already be staying in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Eric Mika’s decision to stay in the draft or return to BYU should be made within the next 10 days.
But how did each local fare during the league’s annual pre-draft exhibition?
Kyle Kuzma, Utah
We already knew Kuzma was staying in the draft; the junior from Flint, Michigan announced his intentions before officially reporting to the combine.
But this weekend likely justified the decision to stay in the draft for the former Ute star who averaged 16.4 points and 9.3 rebounds in 2016-17.
Kuzma shot 32 percent from 3-point range and scored 20 points during Thursday’s 5-on-5 action, prompting him to sit out for most of Friday. The 6-foot, 9.5-inch Kuzma measured out with a 7-foot wingspan, which bodes well for his future draft stock.
He said he met with 10 NBA teams prior to the combine, including a redraft workout with the Atlanta Hawks two weeks prior.
“I definitely think I’m a good shooter,” he told the Deseret News. “It is just consistency. In the second half of the season in Pac 12 play, I shot 40 percent from 3. That showed I can do it and I back it up at the combine.”
As of Sunday, Kuzma was projected as the No. 44 overall pick by draftexpress.com.
Frank Jackson, Duke
The Lone Peak High product and former KSL Game Night Live player of the year had an exemplary combine and signed with BDA Sports Management after Thursday’s workouts despite starting just 16 games and averaging 10.9 points in one season at Duke.
Jackson put in a 13-point, four-assist performance Thursday, and he rated as the second highest vertical jump in the combine with an unofficial mark of 42 inches.
The 6-foot, 4-inch Jackson with a 6-7 wingspan is currently projected as the No. 36 overall pick in the draft.
“I always think it’s nice when you get up to that first round, but nothing is guaranteed, especially in this draft,” he told media. “Do I get better at Duke or do I get better in the NBA?
“I feel like I can get better wherever I am, just with the work ethic I have and the determination. I want to show people that I belong here and that I belong in the NBA.”
Eric Mika, BYU
The Cougar big man’s path to the draft is a bit more uncertain.
The 6-foot-10 center who projects as a power forward in the NBA measured out with a 6-10 wingspan and an 8-10.5 standing reach. He showed well in rebounding and energy, but he scored just five points on 2-of-7 shooting during a 5-on-5 session at the combine.
He said he met with the New York Knicks and had 5-6 teams approaching him for meetings through the weekend.
“I played super physical,” Mika told reporters. “I think teams looking at big guys are definitely going to want that: a guy who can go in, bump some guys and be bumped and not have his whole game thrown off.
“That’s the best thing I do, and I think I showed it.”
Unlike the other two locals at the combine, Mika has not hired an agent and has until May 24 to commit or pull out of the draft. For now, the returned-missionary sophomore is enjoying his trip through the predraft process.
“It’s something I’ve never done, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I was in the hotel, and I saw Magic Johnson, Luke Walton and Larry Bird. Some real NBA legends are here … and it’s definitely surreal. But it’s a cool thing.
“They’re watching you, critiquing your game, and you’ll get some good feedback from the teams.”