Daniel Gafford, possible lottery pick, returning to Arkansas

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Arkansas center Daniel Gafford is often compared to Texas A&M’s Robert Williams as an NBA draft prospect.

Now, Gafford is taking the same course Williams – who declared for this year’s draft – charted last year: returning to an SEC team for his sophomore season despite being recognized as a likely first-round and potential lottery pick.

Gafford:

The NBA might be in my future, but Fayetteville, Arkansas, is where it’s at. I’ll be back again for another year playing in Bud Walton for you guys.

It’s surprising when anyone as highly touted as Gafford forgoes the draft. There’s so much money to be made in the NBA. He’ll likely be the top prospect this year to do so.

The 6-foot-11 Gafford has the size and athleticism – particularly as a leaper – to play center in the NBA. He finishes at the rim and blocks shots well. He maximizes his contributions by playing so hard.

But he can improve his defensive awareness and offensive skills – especially free-throw shooting (53%). NBA teams will expect a more fundamentally sound, more polished player next year.

It’s easy to like Gafford’s potential. For him to maintain, let alone improve, his draft stock, he must turn some of that potential into actual production.