Friday, June 29, 2012

Best Undrafted NBA Prospects

Scott Machado, PG, Iona
In the fall, Machado was the biggest reason preseason pundits had Iona pegged to make the NCAA tourney. Although the Gaels lost to BYU, Machado posted 15 points and 10 assists in his final college contest. The numbers were in line with his season averages of 13.6 points and 9.9 assists per game.

At 22, Machado is more mature and polished than some of those drafted, and although his upside may not be as high, he has a better assist average than anyone in college basketball this year. That stat should translate to the NBA. And, oh yeah, he can score.

Less than 10 hours after the draft ended, sources toldYahoo! Sports that Machado had received calls inquiring about summer league play from the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Hornets and Toronto Raptors. (Read: he’s a lock to make an NBA roster.)*

*Personally, I think the Knicks would be foolish not to make a play for a guy whose college is within shouting distance from Madison Square Garden, especially when the roster is unsettled at his position. Jeremy Lin is the starter, for sure, but last year Baron Davis and Mike Bibby were the backup point guards. Machado could be a traditional PG and the Knicks would suffer little drop-off with him relieving Lin.

All-Pro Photo

Kevin Jones, F, West Virginia
There is talk every year of an SEC bias in college football, and a case can be made for a Big East bias in collegiate hoops. That being said, Jones led the conference in rebounding (11.1 boards per game) and scoring (20.1 points per game) and spearheaded an NCAA tourney berth for the Mountaineers in their last season before departing for the Big 12.

Couple his hard work with proper coaching – a workout routine that will switch fat for muscle on his 6’8”, 260-pound frame – and Jones becomes a reliable role player who impacts the paint on both ends of the floor.

AP Photo

Tu Holloway, PG, Xavier    
Tu Holloway won’t be the last player left undrafted because he isn’t the prototypical size to play either guard position in the NBA. At 6-foot-nothing, 187 pounds, he’s a tweener, but Holloway probably missed out by entering such a deep draft.

After pulling out of the 2011 draft, Holloway completed his senior season at Xavier averaging 17 points and 5.1 assists per game. If he winds up on a pro roster, he’ll likely be called upon as a scorer with occasional chances to run the point.

One thing going for Holloway is that he didn’t shy away from playing defense in college, but rarely will he have a size advantage against NBA players. Time will only tell if that is the difference between a stateside career or an overseas calling.

Hollis Thompson, SF, Georgetown
Thompson is trending upward after three seasons at Georgetown, finishing his college career averaging 12.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Neither stat makes him a lock – it’s not unusual for high-scoring college players to ride pine and toil in the pros (most recently, see: Jimmer Fredette).

His jump shooting skills are Thompson’s most coveted asset, but he needs to improve dramatically in other areas if he’s serious about playing in the NBA. Defense counts in The Association, now more than ever, and while big men often get free passes for being poor free throw shooters, the same cannot be said for small forwards.

Icon SMI

Henry Sims, C, Georgetown
Historically, centers from Georgetown have good basketball reputations. That said, Sims had paltry numbers relative to the system in which he played – 11.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.

He’s also not ideally sized for a center, but at 6’10”, 245 pounds, he can still be a presence in the paint. Pair him with the right big man coach, cover his less-than-stellar athleticism with smart play, and Sims can be useful.

Honorable Mentions
Garrett Stutz, C, Wichita State
Good centers are hard to come by in the pro game, and while Stutz will get some long looks simply for being a legitimate seven-footer, he’s a little slender at 255 pounds. As a major piece in the Shockers’ game, Stutz averaged 13.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game as a senior. Playing mid-major competition also hurt his draft stock.

Casper Ware, PG, Long Beach State
Ware is point guard that made The Beach a preseason darling much in the way Machado helped Iona’s standing, but for different reasons. Ware has court vision (3.4 assists per game), but is primarily a scoring guard, as evidenced by back-to-back seasons averaging 17+ points per game. The stats may be skewed since he played in the relatively weak conference, and at 5’10”, Ware lacks the size of archetypal NBA point guards. But if scouts can get past his stature, they’ll see a quick, smart prospect who can play defense.

William Buford, G, Ohio State
As a senior in a power conference, Buford recorded 14.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. He also had Jared Sullinger and a solid supporting cast that made other teams work. Still, his final season at Ohio State saw his 3-point percentage drop nearly nine points (from 44.2 as a junior to 35.8 his senior year) despite his unquestionable stroke. He struggled down the line until the Buckeyes were booted late from the NCAA tourney by Kansas.

Drew Gordon, PF, New Mexico – college center
Gordon is another prospect who played against questionable competition in a small conference. His 13.7 points and 11.1 rebounds per game made him an All-Mountain West selection last season. He’s a Derrick Williams-type who has fantastic game around the rim and pops the occasional mid-range shot. The best thing that Gordon can offer a team, though, is that he knows how to position his 6’9”, 239-pound frame to get rebounds. He was a leader in that stat category in college, and rebounding translates to the NBA. If you think different, ask Kenneth Faried how he’s doing these days.

Yancy Gates, PF, Cincinnati
There are questions about his dedication to staying in shape, and his role in instigating the Xavier-Cincinnati brawl caused only one of numerous suspensions. Worse yet, he picks and chooses when to play. That doesn’t change the fact that he has good size at 6’9”, 287 pounds, and a wingspan of 7’3”. If he can refine his game and find a way to continue bullying defenders around the bucket, there is hope for Gates yet.

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