Diamond Stone's game continues to expand and that growth continues to be reflected in NBA draft projections.
In a new 2016 mock draft released by DraftExpress.com on Sunday, Stone has climbed to No. 9 overall -- up one spot from No. 10 in the site's last release. DraftExpress points out that team needs are not yet considered in the process, with Stone settling one spot ahead of Kentucky center Skal Labissiere and one spot behind Kentucky guard Jamal Murray.
Of the first 10 players in the mock, seven are freshmen, two will have spent at least two years in college, and one is an international prospect. The international? Dragan Bender, the brother of Maryland forward Ivan Bender, who is projected to go No. 3 overall.
As for Stone, he battled admirably against two Goliaths in the post Saturday in a win over Purdue -- an effort that head coach Mark Turgeon called "by far his best game defensively."
Stone's offensive game will not be questioned. Even against the size of Purdue, he showed the ceiling he has on that end of the floor by working in the pick-and-roll game with guard Melo Trimble and stepping out to hit the mid-range shot over length.
The question will be whether he has shown growth defensively and at this point in the season he undoubtedly has. Prior to the game versus Purdue, he blocked eight shots in a win over Nebraska as more has been asked of him from a minutes perspective.
Elsewhere in the DraftExpress projection, Trimble is slotted at No. 16 overall, which for now would be Denver's pick. Senior forward Jake Layman is at No. 39 overall to New Orleans.