NBA Draft 2021: Johnson, Springer With Last Minute Mock Draft Movement

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    NBA Draft

    Photo by Jack Dempsey/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

    As the NBA Draft quickly approaches on Thursday evening, multiple former Tennessee players, including Keon Johnson, Jaden Springer, and Yves Pons are eagerly waiting for their names to be called.

    But when will that happen exactly? That’s the key question.

    Currently, Johnson is slated as a first-round pick in most mock drafts, with Springer bouncing between the first and second rounds.

    One-and-done player Keon Johnson has widely been regarded as the top NBA prospect from the 2020 Tennessee team. The former Vol averaged 11.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 2.5 APG in his one year with Tennessee. However, many draft experts have cited his limitless athleticism as something that scouts have taken notice of.

    Keon Johnson is a “very raw talent on the whole but an explosive athlete with natural physical tools and a strong defensive framework to build on,” said CBS Sports draft expert Kyle Boone.

    Dave Packham, of NBA.com, also highlighted Johnson’s defensive abilities in his own draft coverage.

    “Rugged, aggressive defender should be able to push the pace on both ends, earning minutes with floor burns and fast breaks until the playmaking catches up,” Packham said.

    Jaden Springer has been a little more of an interesting case. Springer, who will enter the NBA at only 18 years old, has moved back and forth between the first and second round. In fact, he has been listed as high as No. 18 overall and as low as the top of the second round.

    “A scout told CBS Sports’ Colin Ward-Henninger earlier this year that on his own personal projections he ranks Jaden Springer ahead of Jalen Suggs in this draft,” said Kyle Boone of CBS Sports. “That praise might be pouring it on a tad thick, but it shows there really are believers in what Springer can do.”

    Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated also mentioned why teams have taken an interest in Springer.

    “He’s a favorite of analytically-driven front offices, and the fact he’s still 18 and viewed as more of a long-term prospect will make him more appealing in some places than others,” said Woo in his latest NBA Mock Draft.

    Finally, Yves Pons has not been listed on any mock draft done by ESPN, CBS, or Sports Illustrated. In fact, it is often hard to find a mock draft with Pons listed. But at the NBA Draft combine, the former Tennessee Volunteers’ star ranked third among all NBA combine players in both standing vertical leap and max vertical leap. Pons may not wind up drafted on Thursday, but his journey is still likely far from over.

    ESPN:

    Keon Johnson – Round 1, No. 16 overall – Oklahoma City Thunder (from BOS)

    Jaden Springer – Round 2, No. 31 overall – Milwaukee Bucks (from HOU)

    CBS Sports:

    Keon Johnson – Round 1, No. 12 overall – San Antonio Spurs

    Jaden Springer – Round 1, No. 18 overall – Oklahoma City Thunder

    Sports Illustrated:

    Keon Johnson – Round 1, No. 19 overall – New York Knicks

    Jaden Springer – Round 1, No. 30 overall – Utah Jazz

    NBADraft.net

    Keon Johnson – Round 1, No. 19 overall – New York Knicks

    Jaden Springer – Round 1, No. 28 overall – Philadelphia 76ers

    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.