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Rawle Alkins projected to be 1st-round pick by Sports Illustrated

Deandre Ayton is projected to go No. 1 overall

UCLA v Arizona Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

Rawle Alkins has been projected to be a second-round NBA Draft pick nearly his entire career with the Arizona Wildcats, but one major publication is higher on him than most.

Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated, who was in town for the UCLA and USC games this past weekend, predicts Alkins will be selected 24th overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2018 NBA Draft. (Woo also projects Deandre Ayton will be picked No. 1 overall).

Here is Woo’s explanation for Alkins:

Although he’s missed time on and off with a foot injury, Alkins has been an X-factor for Arizona all season and looks to be rounding into form for the stretch run. His ability to slash and shoot from outside and keep up with opposing wings defensively would be a nice fit with Atlanta’s rebuild. Alkins is an intelligent player and has some scoring upside thanks to his strong build and explosive leaping ability. He can gather some steam with a strong finish to the season.

What does Alkins think of that projection? Or projections as a whole?

“I actually don’t pay attention to that at all. All that stuff is just opinions,” he said Monday. “I don’t know how many sources they’re getting behind that. No one even knows what teams are thinking, what teams have picks. So all that stuff is sources, but at the end of the day I’m happy to be on the right direction of that.”

Alkins has missed 12 games this year because of a broken foot/foot soreness, but his offensive numbers have improved across the board, nonetheless.

The sophomore is averaging 13.2 points and 2.8 assists per game, while shooting 46 percent from the field, 39 percent from 3, and 75 percent from the line.

Alkins declared for the draft after his freshman season, but decided to return to school after getting feedback from NBA personnel after the NBA Draft Combine.

That appears to have been a wise decision, though Alkins and the Wildcats still have plenty of work to do before season’s end.

“I still think that I have a lot to get better at, and I have a lot to improve in,” he said. “It’s just the beginning.”

Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire