With Ayton, Bagley, NBA draft could be big night for big men

NEW YORK (AP) — It could be a big night for big men in the NBA draft.

Arizona’s Deandre Ayton, Duke’s Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr., Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr. and Texas center Mo Bamba are all expected to be high selections Thursday night in Brooklyn. All are 6-foot-10 or taller.

The Phoenix Suns have the No. 1 pick for the first time in franchise history and are expected to take the 7-foot-1 Ayton. They are followed by Sacramento, Atlanta, Memphis and Dallas.

Ayton, a native of the Bahamas, and Bagley were high school teammates for one season at Hillcrest Prep in Arizona.

There has been less emphasis on traditional centers in the NBA in recent years, but most of the top big-men prospects are versatile enough to play outside as well, making this the first time since 2007 that six players 6-10 or taller could go in the top 10.