Jalen Wilson had to wait a while Thursday night to hear his name called, but late in the second round of this year’s NBA draft he became the second Kansas Jayhawks player of the day to find a new NBA home.
He’s headed to the Brooklyn Nets, who took the All-American with the 51st pick of the draft.
Wilson’s four-year career at Kansas will likely be memorialized in the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse someday. A member of the 2022 national championship team, Wilson returned to school for one more season in 2022-23 and posted one of the best individual seasons in recent KU history.
He became just the third player in the Bill Self era to average over 20 points per game, tallying 20.1 points a night along with 8.3 rebounds per game, both of which led the Big 12. That earned him unanimous Big 12 Player of the Year honors and the Julius Erving Award for the best small forward in college basketball.
Jalen Wilson rides historic season to second-round selection
His draft profile at NBA.com summed up what Wilson’s role can be at the next level: “Wilson excelled at exploiting mismatches during his time at Kansas. There will be significantly fewer mismatches to exploit at the next level. Josh Hart has proved that rebounding prowess and good defense can counteract subpar shooting. Wilson will need to carve out his own niche, but proven winners are capable of doing so.”
Self, speaking on Zoom following the draft, said that when you get taken late in the second round it’s all about fit with a team and that he likes how Wilson fits with the Nets.
“I know that his representation feels like it’s a really good fit,” Self said. “I certainly think that he’ll have a heck of a chance to be part of their roster.”
The Nets made three picks on Thursday, Wilson being the last of the group. Brooklyn also made back-to-back picks at Nos. 21 and 22 in the first round, taking Noah Clowney from the Alabama Crimson Tide and Dariq Whitehead from the Duke Blue Devils with those selections.
Wilson joins his teammate, Gradey Dick, as the Jayhawks’ two draft picks this year. Dick went to the Toronto Raptors with the 13th pick in the first round.
This marks the second year in a row that Kansas has had two players taken in the NBA draft and it’s the third time in the last five years that has happened.