Here are 4 Kansas basketball players Bill Self thinks could be picked in 2023 NBA draft

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LAWRENCE — A lot can happen between now and the day of the 2023 NBA draft.

Which organizations pick where has yet to be determined. Which prospects are in line to become lottery picks could change in the months ahead. There are more questions than answers.

But, looking at Kansas’ roster ahead of the upcoming college basketball season, Jayhawks coach Bill Self has some names in mind when it comes to which players could be drafted next. This year he saw Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun selected in the first round by the Cleveland Cavaliers and Denver Nuggets. Self said the conversation about next year should start with Jalen Wilson.

►RELATED: Kansas' Ochai Agbaji speaks at introductory press conference for Cleveland Cavaliers

“Jalen has gone through it,” said Self. “Jalen’s shot 26 (percent from 3-point range) this year. If he shoots 38 next year he’ll be a first-round pick. I’m confident of that. I also think Kevin (McCullar Jr.) — even though we haven’t coached Kevin yet … They’re both guys that made good decisions to come back, because they both probably weren’t exactly where they wanted to be. But I think, with having a good year, we’ll be talking about those guys being potential first-round picks next year.”

Self added: “Obviously, Gradey (Dick) and MJ (Rice), too. But I was just talking about the ones that have tested (the draft process) and (are) coming back and now can take that big jump.”

Wilson is coming off of a redshirt sophomore season in which the forward helped Kansas capture a national title, and McCullar a redshirt junior season in which the guard reached the NCAA tournament with Texas Tech before transferring to join the Jayhawks. Dick and Rice are both freshman guards with Kansas.

Here’s a look at why Self could be right:

Jalen Wilson

Kansas' Jalen Wilson (10) grabs a rebound during the Jayhawks' NCAA tournament victory against Providence this past season. Another quality year could see him become a NBA draft pick.
Kansas' Jalen Wilson (10) grabs a rebound during the Jayhawks' NCAA tournament victory against Providence this past season. Another quality year could see him become a NBA draft pick.

Wilson leads all returning Jayhawks in points and rebounds from their national championship campaign. That season propelled him to a spot at the NBA G League Elite Camp, where he played well enough to earn a spot at the NBA’s pre-draft combine as well. And as a leader for Kansas this upcoming season, he’s in prime position to take significant steps forward in his game as Agbaji and Braun both did.

It’s unclear what opportunity Wilson, who has tested the NBA draft process multiple times before ultimately returning to college, would have received had he remained in the draft process this time. A teammate of his from this past season, David McCormack, was said by Yahoo! Sports to have reached a "Summer League, training camp deal" with the Minnesota Timberwolves. But as Self said, a better season shooting the ball from behind the arc would do a lot toward Wilson enjoying what’s in store for him with the 2023 NBA draft.

►RELATED: Inside a significant NBA draft for Kansas basketball, Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun

Kevin McCullar Jr.

Kevin McCullar Jr., then with Texas Tech, warms up before an NCAA tournament game against Duke this past season. His transfer to Kansas could lead to a career professionally in the NBA.
Kevin McCullar Jr., then with Texas Tech, warms up before an NCAA tournament game against Duke this past season. His transfer to Kansas could lead to a career professionally in the NBA.

McCullar also was at the G League event. McCullar’s play there didn’t lead to an invitation to the combine, but his presence showcased that he is on the radars of NBA organizations. McCullar is in position to play himself into a better opportunity in 2023 — depending on how the veteran’s first season with the Jayhawks unfolds.

McCullar has been widely praised for his defensive prowess, not to mention his versatility on both ends of the court. More consistency on the offensive end could lead to a rise on draft boards. A recent NBA mock draft by ESPN predicted McCullar would be picked in the second round, 53rd overall, next year.

Gradey Dick

Gradey Dick is one of the most heralded recruits in the 2022 class. His play at Kansas this upcoming season could lead to a NBA career.
Gradey Dick is one of the most heralded recruits in the 2022 class. His play at Kansas this upcoming season could lead to a NBA career.

Dick hasn’t played a game in college yet, and that ESPN mock draft already has him as a potential first-round pick in 2023. According to this prediction, he’d go 18th overall in the first round. That’s in between where Agbaji, at 14th overall, and Braun, at 21st overall, went this year.

Dick is a 247Sports Composite five-star prospect who joined Kansas as the 19th-ranked talent in the 2022 recruiting class. He has size and proved just how effective he can be as a shooter this past season at Sunrise Christian Academy. If he can live up to that billing offensively, and show himself to at least be reliable on the defensive end, it’s hard to imagine him not being a first-round pick.

MJ Rice

MJ Rice, then at Prolific Prep, reacts on the bench during the GEICO Nationals semifinals on April 1 in Fort Myers, Fla. Rice joined Kansas with the 2022 recruiting class.
MJ Rice, then at Prolific Prep, reacts on the bench during the GEICO Nationals semifinals on April 1 in Fort Myers, Fla. Rice joined Kansas with the 2022 recruiting class.

Rice is a four-star prospect and the 29th-ranked talent in his recruiting class — not far behind Dick. Rice is not quite as tall as Dick, but he appears capable of holding his own physically at the college level. When Kansas announced it had signed these two, it listed Dick at 6-foot-7 and 195 pounds and Rice at 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds.

With Agbaji, Braun, McCormack and others moving on from the Jayhawks and pursuing professional careers, various roles are up for grabs. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if Rice and Dick became starters at some point. Even if Rice is a bench player, it’s conceivable that he could showcase his talent to the extent that his stay in Lawrence won’t stretch past a year.

Jordan Guskey covers University of Kansas Athletics at The Topeka Capital-Journal. Contact him at jmguskey@gannett.com or on Twitter at @JordanGuskey.

This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: These 4 Kansas basketball players could be picked in 2023 NBA draft