Does Iowa State basketball sensation Talen Horton-Tucker have an NBA draft promise?

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Steve Prohm told Talen Horton-Tucker to work as hard during the NBA evaluation process, as he worked during the season.
Randy Peterson, rpeterson@dmreg.com

CHIICAGO, Ill. — Talen Horton-Tucker skipping the scrimmage portion of this week’s NBA draft combine could be due to a variety of things, including the possibility that there’s already some behind-the-scenes draft-choice promises, says one of the most respected persons in college basketball.

“It could mean a team has already guaranteed Talen that they’ll take him in the first round, if he’s still available when it’s that team’s turn to pick,” ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla said. “In those situations, teams suggest to an agent that their client not participate, because there’s always the prospect that he’ll blow up in a positive way.”

There also could be another reason Horton-Tucker isn’t performing in the Thursday-Friday scrimmages at Quest Multisport in Chicago.

“It’s that a player could blow up the other way,” Fraschilla said. “An agent could be concerned that a guy blows up negatively, to the point that his weaknesses are exposed. That’s another reason. But when it comes to the scrimmages for guys in Talen’s situation, doing the athletic testing and interviews — and then skipping the five-on-fives — is not all that uncommon.”

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CBSsports’ Gary Parrish has Horton-Tucker going in the first round, at No. 25, to the Portland Trail Blazers in his post-lottery mock draft. NBCsports’ post-lottery mock draft predicts Horton-Tucker being the 23rd pick of the first round to the Utah Jazz, which would be interesting, considering former Iowa State stars Georges Niang finished the season on the Jazz’ roster, and former Cyclone Naz Mitrou-Long played for both the Jazz and the organization’s G-League affiliate. Sports Illustrated has Horton-Tucker going to the Atlanta Hawks as the fifth pick of the second round.

“Sometimes, there’s situations where players have more to gain from the interview process than any other aspect of NBA combine,” Fraschilla said. “Sometimes, it’s just as important to find out what makes players tick — and how badly do they want to be a contributing NBA player?

“Naz would have walked on hot coals to Utah to make the team.”

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The 6-foot-4, 233-pound Horton-Tucker averaged 12.1 points and 5.0 rebounds during what likely was a one-and-done college career. He scored inside and he could score from outside, where he was a 31.4 percent three-point shooter. He started 33 of 34 games.

Iowa State’s last first-round draft choice was Royce White to Houston in 2012.

Players have until May 29 to withdraw from the draft and return to college. The draft is June 20.

Source: Des Moines Register