By Hocine LOUKKAF on 5/24/2018
10 days before the withdrawal deadline for NCAA players, Chicago was the place to be for some 69 prospects picked by the NBA scouts. As usual, there were snubs like Bosnian PF Ajdin Penava, the top shot blocker in college basketball, Wisconsin’s old school bruiser Ethan Happ or Texas’ athlete Kerwin Roach. We’ll see how potential first/early second round prospects did.
This combine was divided in two parts, the physical tests and the scrimmages.
Let’s start with the winners of the measurements. Among PG, Gilgeous-Alexander measured as well as expected as 6’4.5 with a 6’11.5 wingspan and an incredible 8’8 standing reach. Carr and Duval have similar wingspan at 6’8 despite the latest being 1.5inch smaller.
Sexton and Holiday, both around 6ft, had the biggest differential with both 6’7+ wingspan. At guard, most of the best prospects were in the “undersized guard” mold, with Simons (6’2.25), Smith (6’2.5), Thomas (6’2.5), Walker (6’3.75) all under 6’4 but with wingspans measured between 6’9.25 and 6’10.5. Okogie and Frazier showcased their incredible 7ft+ wingspan, giving the opportunity for Frazier, who also scored a 8’9 standing reach, at 6’4.5 to play both swingman position. Troy Brown is another swingman whose height (6’5.75) and wingspan (6’10.25) will create permanent mismatches.
Bates Diop was the most impressive SF at 6’7.25 with a tremendous 7’3.25 wingspan, but it was not enough to join the 9’0 standing reach club led by Knox and Michael Porter. Finally, how can we not talk about Bamba‘s record 7’10 wingspan and 9’7.5 standing reach. He’s one of numerous bigs who measured well like Jaren Jackson Jr (7’5.25 wingspan 9’2 standing reach), Austin Wiley (only 6’8.25 but 9.3 standing reach) or Wendell Carter.
After the measurements, the athetic part reserved us some surprises. DiVincenzo ended up with the highest max vertical leap, tied with Okogie, and the best standing vertical leap. Nine other players recorded a 40+ max vert including Duval, Smith, Simons, Walker or Frazier. Kevin Huerter flew below the radar before having top ten times in all three speed tests to go with a 38.0 max vert. Among bigs, Konate (who has just withdrawn from the NBA draft) had the best standing leap with 31.5, hald an inch better than Azubuike while Metu and Spellman outscored the Mountaineer in the max vert (36.0, 35.5 and 35.0 respectively).
Four scrimmages were settled to evaluate the prospects’ actual play, each player playing in two games. Despite most of the first round prospects not participating in the scrimmages, some who took advantage of the setting.
Donte DiVincenzo, 6-4 SG, Villanova
The NCAA Final Four MOP showcased his activity with combined stats of 17pts 13rbds 6as. He still has work to do to be an efficient combo guard but his impressive vert leap, nose for defense and shooting (despite 1/6 from three in the second game) could convince several teams to pick him in the late first.
Omari Spellman, 6-8 PF Villanova
After an average first game offensively, in which he still grabbed 12rbds, Spellman used the second game to prove he was a potential first round selection. 15pts 9rbds 5as 2st and a block is a pretty good statline and the momentum seems good for Spellman to stay in the draft.
Alize Johnson, 6-9 PF/SF, Missouri State
Johnson had a pretty disappointing season which led him to be projected only in the late second. He moved up with two good games where he was efficient on the boards with 19rbds combined while displaying impressive passing ability wit 8as over the event. He was as efficient on offense with 29pts including 2/4 from three.
Sagaba Konate, 6-7 PF/C, WVU
Konate has decided to withdraw from the process but his intensity and skills are undeniable. His 11pts 7rbds 4bl 2as in his first game proved he could be a complete PF. With him, NBA teams know they have someone who will give 150% to defend and make his team win.
Austin Wiley, 6-9 C, Auburn
Wiley didn’t play this year but his 20pts 10rbds and 4bl are a good sign of his actual level. His main weakness is that he can’t spread the game but you always need some tough minded defense to protect the rim.
Melvin Frazier, 6-5 SF/SG, Tulane
After impressive measurements, one game was enough for Frazier to showcase his length, athleticism and defensive appeal. His 14pts 4as 4st were not the best individual game of the event but Frazier may have helped NBA teams searching for a two-way swingman know how Frazier can contribute.
Gary Trent, 6-5 SG, Duke
His good measurements were backed by an impressive second game. Trent is a shooter, whatever the setting is. He knows what he can do and that will help him have a solid NBA career.
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