NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round-Arkansas vs Kansas

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson is declaring for the NBA Draft after winning Big 12 Player of the Year for the 2022-23 season, he announced Wednesay. Wilson led the Big 12 in scoring and rebounding while helping carry the Jayhawks to a Big 12 regular-season title and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament as a redshirt junior.

Though the Jayhawks' season ended with a surprising loss to No. 8 seed Arkansas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Wilson's emergence as the team's primary offensive option following a wave of departures from KU's 2022 title team helped keep the program at or near the top of the sport for much of the season.

Wilson was in the Kansas program for four seasons but would likely have had two seasons of college eligibility remaining after redshirting in 2019-20 and because his redshirt season in 2020-21 did not count against anyone's eligibility amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But after being part of a national-title team and proving his chops as a primary option this past season, the timing is logical for Wilson to test his mettle at the next level.

At 6-foot-8, he has the frame and offensive game to play on the wing in the NBA, and he's already 22, which makes him old for a professional prospect.

Jalen Wilson's NBA Draft projection

The knock on Wilson entering the 2022-23 season was that he needed to improve his outside shot after shooting just 26.3% from beyond the arc for the Jayhawks during the 2021-22 title run. He upped that mark to 33.7% this past season on 5.8 attempts per game, which was an encouraging sign considering how much KU relied on him to create offense. Long term, it's easy to imagine Wilson as a 35% 3-point shooter in the NBA on a low-to-mid volume diet.

Ultimately, his physicality as a driver and mid-range chops should make him a serviceable offensive option as a wing or stretch four. Though not an elite athlete, he boasts the right combination of size and agility to defend multiple positions and is strong enough to work the margins against smaller defenders to create quality offensive looks.

Wilson ranks No. 42 in the 2023 NBA Draft Prospect Rankings from CBS Sports. He landed at No. 27 in a recent mock draft from Kyle Boone.

"He's improved from 3-point range and remains one of the best rebounding wings in the sport," Boone wrote. "Not quite 3-and-D -- the 3-point shooting may not be a reliable weapon for him just yet -- but someone who can bring energy and versatility as a rotational piece."

Impact on Kansas

Wilson went through the preliminary NBA Draft process last season before opting for a return to Kansas. Coach Bill Self likely understood this would be his final season in the program and is well-versed at this point on rebuilding his lineup each season. The Jayhawks are welcoming the nation's No. 6 recruiting class, which features four perimeter players. If a couple of the incoming freshmen are ready to contribute substantive minutes and Kanas can make a couple quality additions through the portal, the Jayhawks should be right back at or near the top of the Big 12 next season.