Where Memphis basketball's Jalen Duren is projected to go in the NBA Draft

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If things happen as projected, the University of Memphis will have a player go in the first round of the NBA Draft for the second time in three years.

Tigers center Jalen Duren has long been projected as a lottery pick in Thursday's NBA Draft (6:30 p.m. CT, ABC), and his performance as a freshman this past season didn't change that. Duren led the Tigers in scoring (12.0) and rebounding (8.1), while leading the American Athletic Conference in blocked shots (61). His production helped make him Memphis' third straight AAC Freshman of the Year.

In 2020, former Tigers James Wiseman and Precious Achiuwa were taken in the first round by the Golden State Warriors (No. 2 overall) and Miami Heat (No. 20).

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While Duren doesn't fit the mold of the modern NBA big man, the 6-foot-11, 250-pounder is still coveted by those in line to make lottery picks next week. Eleven of the 12 mock drafts surveyed by The Commercial Appeal project Duren to be taken within the first 14 picks.

C Jalen Duren

Mock draft high: Round 1 (No. 7 overall) to Portland Trail Blazers

Mock draft low: Round 1 (No. 18 overall) to Chicago Bulls

The buzz: Duren, at 18, is one of the youngest players in this year's draft. “Young talent with big upside," is how he is described, in part, by NBA.com. The general consensus among mock drafters is Duren will go somewhere between the ninth and 11th pick to either the San Antonio Spurs, Washington Wizards or New York Knicks.

What makes the most sense

The Spurs are reportedly in search of a traditional center, and indications are the team would like to find one in the draft. Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren have more to offer than the traditional big – not that they'd even be available at No. 9. That leaves Duren or someone like former Duke 7-footer Mark Williams. Duren has the physical tools to step in right away as a rebounder and rim protector. Everything else will need time to fine-tune. The Spurs have the luxury of being patient.

Reach sports writer Jason Munz at jason.munz@commercialappeal.com or on Twitter @munzly.

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Where Memphis' Jalen Duren is projected to go in the NBA Draft