ESPN’s Givony: Arizona C Christian Koloko sniffing NBA Draft 1st round

Dec 1, 2021, 9:28 AM

Arizona junior center Christian Koloko has turned the heads of NBA scouts and draft analysts with his latest performances.

Koloko is playing his way to near-first round status on ESPN’s NBA Draft prospect big board. He is currently 32nd on the board, just two spots below a projected first round spot.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony believes a sustainable breakout season can put Koloko in round one.

NBA scouts have seen parts of this movie before, with Koloko showing signs of taking the next step with his productivity and approach, only to be disappointed as he crashed to earth. This time feels a lot more sustainable, especially seeing the way he thoroughly dominated All-American Hunter Dickinson on both ends of the floor in the shellacking of Michigan, but only time will tell if Koloko has indeed taken the next step and is ready to be considered a legitimate first round pick.

Koloko’s standout performance came in the Roman Main Event final against Michigan. He shined in a matchup against Dickinson, scoring 22 points with seven rebounds. Dickinson, by comparison, only scored 11 points while equalling Koloko’s rebounding numbers.

Koloko earned the Pac-12 Player of the Week award on Nov. 22 for his efforts in the multi-team event, which also included a 13-point and 11-rebound performance in an overtime win against Wichita State.

Including a 20-point performance on Saturday against Sacramento State, Koloko has scored at least 13 points in five of Arizona’s six games. He only scored at least 10 points in two games in his college career before this season.

Givony said Koloko has improved in nearly everything required for major offensive production.

Offensively, Koloko has taken a major step forward with his skill level and awareness as well, showing a knack for operating out of ball-screens and hand-offs while providing a steady presence as a lob-catcher thanks to his huge standing reach and improved hands and touch.

Koloko has averaged 16.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in the first six games of the season, the former of which puts him fourth in the Pac-12.

His shot-blocking has taken another step up this season. Koloko’s 3.5 blocks per game leads the conference.

Givony credits Koloko’s physical attributes for his blocking ability.

With his 7-4 wingspan, much improved 230-pound frame and outstanding mobility, Koloko is the anchor of Arizona’s staunch defense and is demonstrating impressive versatility covering ground on the perimeter as well as rotating to contest and block shots around the rim.

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ESPN’s Givony: Arizona C Christian Koloko sniffing NBA Draft 1st round