With the NBA Combine now underway, prospects finally get to show off their talents. Many players opted to skip the combine (Lonzo Ball, Dennis Smith) while others are choosing not to participate in 5-on-5 activities (De’Aaron Fox, T.J. Leaf). Some players might use feedback from NBA personnel to decide whether or not they should return to college to polish their game. Let’s take a look at five prospects that everyone should keep their eyes on:
1. Hamidou Diallo, G, Kentucky
Diallo is one of the rare “none and done” prospects. He was a highly touted 2017 recruit that graduated from prep school a semester early to enroll at Kentucky. Although never played a game for the Wildcats, Diallo is 19 years old which means he is eligible for the draft.
Listed at 6-5, 190 by Kentucky, he has the size and elite athleticism to help him jump into the early first-round. Being a “none and done” means Diallo has the most to prove but also has the most to lose. He must show NBA scouts the talent and hard work that got him recruited by Kentucky if he wants his stock to rise.
Being so young with no collegiate experience, Diallo is the ultimate boom-or-bust prospect in the combine. He has everything he needs to be a first-round pick. However, due to his inexperience, scouts might advise him to return to school and re-enter the draft in 2018 where he could potentially be a lottery pick.
2. D.J. Wilson, F/C, Michigan
Wilson used Michigan’s magical March run to help his draft stock. He did not put up flashy stats as a starter in Ann Arbor (11 ppg, 5.3 rpg) but is a developmental prospect. He will join teammate Moe Wagner in the combine as they both look to make their stock jump this week.
Wilson is an athletic big man who can shoot and has also shown he can shoot the NBA 3-pointer. He has long arms and uses them to his advantage. His ability to confidently switch on pick and rolls with good footwork could go a long way for Wilson. Many coaches and scouts believe he will be a second-round selection at best. The fact that he is a developmental player gives him more of an upside than many other prospects his age. With a good combine, Wilson could convince one or more NBA teams to take him early.
3. Andrew Jones, G, Texas
Because of the lack of success Texas had last season (11-20 overall), Jones fell out of most people’s radars. There are multiple opinions to where Jones could land. Some say he could slide into the late first-round due to his quickness, while others say they wouldn’t touch him until later in the draft due to his current lack of true point guard IQ.
To his credit, Jones finished last season strong, scoring in double figures in 15 of his last 17 games. Being a 6-4 guard, he has elite athleticism but his jump shot still needs some work. Jones still has a far way to go as an NBA prospect. He could likely use feedback from scouts at the combine to re-enter next year’s draft to improve into a 2018 first-round prospect.
4. Frank Jackson, G, Duke
Jackson finished last season off strong and in Duke’s two NCAA Tournament games he averaged 11 ppg. With all of the injuries and other difficult situations the Blue Devils went through last season, Jackson was one of the constants for Duke. Being a freshman, he is not projected to go early. Some questions that Jackson will face will be: Can he run the point? Or is he an undersized two that can handle the ball?
Jackson is in a tough situation. He could either return to Duke and maybe fall behind in the rotation with Grayson Allen and potential Duke commit Trevon Duval. Or, if he stays in the draft, he could have to wait until the second-round to hear his name. If Jackson can dominate the combine leaving no doubts to his athleticism and scoring ability, he could get his stock to rise.
5. Tony Bradley, C, UNC
Many people were shocked at the news of Bradley entering the draft without an agent after only his freshman year. Coming off the bench for UNC, he averaged a modest seven points and five rebounds per game. To his defense, though, he did so averaging only 14 minutes per game. This means he was on track to average a double-double if he played at least 30 minutes per game.
He possesses impressive measurables standing at 6-10 with a 7-4 wingspan. In addition to that, he has good hands and feet and looks the part of an NBA center. The question with Bradley, like many other prospects in this combine, is whether or not he returns to school to polish his game. Bradley is in the late first-round discussion as it is. With an outstanding performance in the combine he could solidify his status as a first-round pick.