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Arizona basketball: Lauri Markkanen’s family had a “two-year plan” heading into his college career

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Maybe it isn’t a given that the 7-footer leaves after one season?

New Mexico v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Lauri Markkanen has flourished in his first year in college basketball with the Arizona Wildcats, leading them in both points (16.3) and rebounds (7.3) per game through 13 games, while shooting 44 percent from 3.

The 7-footer from Finland can do things that most players his size can’t — shoot, put the ball on the floor, create for others, etc. — and NBA personnel have undoubtedly taken notice.

Relatedly, Markkanen is projected to be selected eighth in the 2017 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.com, and in the top ten by several other publications, plus was projected to be a first rounder (though lower in the round) before he even suited up for the Wildcats.

For these reasons, it seems like Markkanen is a sure-fire one-and-done, and will opt to leave for the NBA after just one season in Tucson.

Not so fast.

Lauri’s father, Pekka, told Bleacher Report that the family entered Lauri’s freshman season with a “two-year plan” for the 7-footer. In other words, they expected him to be with the Wildcats for two seasons before jumping to the professional ranks.

As mentioned earlier, though, Lauri was projected to be selected in the lower half of the first round before the season, so it’s entirely possible the family’s stance on Lauri has shifted since then.

After all, passing up the opportunity to be a top-10 pick in the NBA Draft is something that is rarely seen.

Still, the second half of the season hasn’t started yet and Lauri’s draft stock will likely continue to fluctuate as the games go by.

At minimum, though, it seems Lauri may not be as likely to bolt for the NBA after one season as many believe. Who knows, maybe Arizona fans will get to see him play alongside No. 1 recruit DeAndre Ayton — who called the Finn “amazing” — next season.

That sure would be one heck of a frontcourt.


You can follow this author on Twitter at @RKelapire for more Arizona basketball coverage.