The 2019 NBA Draft kicks off around 8pm tonight and will be of particular interest to a bunch of local products who have put themselves in a position to get selected.
Here’s a look at where ESPN NBA Draft analysts Mike Schmitz and Jonathan Givony have them ranked among their Top-100 Draft Prospects along with my own opinion about each prospect’s draft stock and pro future.
ERIC PASCHALL, 6’7” Wing, Villanova/St Thomas More ‘14
S-&-G TOP-100 RANK: 31
The 2-time NCAA Champion is currently on the cusp of the 1st Round according to Givony and Schmitz. His versatility is intriguing and his selfless production in a winning culture allowed NBA scouts to get a perfect grasp of the role he could play at the next level.
Bottom Line: Being 23 years old, Paschall is what he is as far as long-term projections are concerned but his energy and passion is contagious. He might struggle to find a role at the beginning of his NBA career but he could stick around for a while once he defines himself as a pro. He’ll have to prove that he can stretch the floor and defend both wings and bigs in order to max out his perceived value.
JALEN LECQUE, 6’4” PG/Wing, Brewster Academy ‘18
S-&-G TOP-100 RANK: 47
His journey from under-the-radar prospect to prep-to-NBA status is a great one. Lecque entered the 2019 NBA Draft after leading Brewster to the 2019 National Prep Championship and putting on a show at the NBA Draft Combine, where he had the highest Max Vertical (43”) in this year’s class. Several NBA teams who own multiple picks are in the market for high ceiling Draft-&-Develop prospects who can pay huge dividends in years 2-thru-4 of their rookie contract.
BOTTOM LINE: Lecque’s violent athleticism is unique and elite but it’s not the only thing he brings to the table. He’s also an extremely gifted passer with the ability to gain more functional separation from defenders with his sidestep moves than any prospect I’ve seen at the prep level. Once he develops the ability to gather and properly balance himself working off those actions, Lecque will be able to create open looks at will. He’ll also need to work on almost every aspect of his jumper in order to simplify his motions, get straight up-&-down earlier in his mechanics and find a consistent release point.
Don’t be shocked if an organization that owns multiple picks grabs him in the late-1st/early-2nd Round. Regardless, his decision to stay in this year’s Draft was the right one and will allow him to sharpen his elite raw tools under the guidance of the world’s best.
TREMONT WATERS, 5’11” Point Guard, LSU/Norte Dame-West Haven ‘17
S-&-G TOP-100 RANK: 48
Waters has been labeled “undersized” at every level but all the young man has done is produce at the highest level wherever he’s played and improved his play-making skills to the extent that he’s a legitimate NBA Point Guard prospect right now. Whether that’s as a starter or backup will depend on the team and his growth once he enters the league.
One of the most underrated athletes in this year’s class, Waters registered the 4th highest Max Vertical (40.5”) at the 2019 NBA Draft Combine. He’s a threat to knock down shots from well beyond NBA range, consistently uses his shifty handle to probe the lane and works at low angles with violent sudden bursts to blow by bigger defenders. The majority of the times I’ve seen opposing teams attempt to post him up, at both the prep and SEC-level, it’s resulted in a turnover in favor of Waters’ squad. His IQ allows him to rope-a-dope both ends of the entry pass and manipulate the situation to put himself in a position to succeed.
BOTTOM LINE: Waters finds ways to turn his perceived weaknesses into areas of strength more often than he finds himself getting exposed by his limitations. He’s the exception to a lot of NBA rules and that should only become more true as he settles into his role at the next level. Some front offices would selected him in last year’s Draft, so I wouldn’t be shocked if someone moves up at some point in the late-1st/early-2nd Round to get their hands on the New Haven native.
MIYE ONI, 6’7” Wing, Yale/Suffield Academy ‘16
S-&-G TOP-100 RANK:54
Many are referring to Oni’s ascension as an out-of-nowhere miracle but that’s far from the case. Anybody who was in attendance for his 51-Point explosion against a Wenyen Gabriel-led Wilbraham & Monson squad back at the 2016 National Prep School Invitational would realize that. Oni had a similar eye-opener earlier this season against Miami which solidified his status as a legit pro prospect. His ability to score effortlessly at all 3-levels and defend any of the wing positions will allow him to make a team at some point in the next few years.
BOTTOM LINE: Certain NBA Front Offices are more intelligent than others. One of the more intuitive groups will value Oni’s perimeter skillset, play-making skills, versatility and high-IQ at some point in the 2nd Round.
TERRENCE MANN, 6’7” Wing, Florida State/Tilton ‘15
S-&-G TOP-100 RANK: 68
Most point to the 2019 NBA Draft Combine as the moment when Mann’s stock rose but his ability to shoot 39% from 3 during his senior season while perfecting his role as an ultimate glue guy at FSU is certainly what earned him the invite in the first place. Mann averaged 12 points, 6 rebounds and 2.5 assists while leading FSU to two of their most successful seasons in recent memory.
BOTTOM LINE: As an efficient low-maintenance producer who is willing to do the dirty work, defend an wing position and fight relentlessly when switched onto any big, Mann’s value is in his versatility and makeup. Whether he gets Drafted or has to take a longer route to the NBA, nobody would be surprised to see the young man in the league at some point.
CHARLIE BROWN, 6’7” Wing, St. Joseph’s/St Thomas More ‘16
S-&-G TOP-100 RANK: 92
Brown’s stock was at it’s highest point early in the season when he was averaging an uber-efficient 25 points in his first 6 games, while shooting over 50% from 3 (21-38 from 3) and laying the foundation for a FT% that finished above 84% for the year. As team’s began to devise defensive game plans to stop him, those numbers leveled out but Brown still established himself as a future pro.
BOTTOM LINE: At almost 6’8” with a smooth stroke and the ability to create from the win on isolation plays or in transition, Brown’s game is pro-ready. He’ll have to prove that he can create for teammates off the bounce but as he sharpens his skillset, Brown should find himself playing in the NBA at some point in the near future.
SIMI SHITTU, 6’10” Big/Wing, Vanderbilt/Vermont Academy ‘18
S-&-G TOP-100 RANK: 98
Shittu’s current Draft Stock is mind-boggling to me. I’ve spoken to a handful of NBA Front Office personnel who have told me straight up: We aren’t able to identify a single NBA-level tool within his skillset. That’s nonsense in my opinion.
After suffering a torn ACL in late-December of his senior season at Vermont, Shittu got surgery and did everything necessary to get back on the court for the start of Vanderbilt’s season. Just a handful of games in, their entire outlook changed when PG Darius Garland fore his meniscus and went down for the year. Shittu was asked to bare the brunt of the load on both ends and didn’t have much help around him. It led to a disastrous 0-18 SEC record and NBA Scouts put it directly on Shittu’s shoulders. Yet, Garland’s stock rose dramatically after he quickly made the decision to sit out the rest of the season without entertaining a chance at coming back.
I understand that Shittu’s lone season at Vandy was underwhelming. But the versatile Canadian battled through until the very end, when he could’ve easily gone the same route as Garland and done what was best for his personal stock instead.
BOTTOM LINE: In today’s positionless NBA, Shittu’s abilities as a borderline elite grab-&-go rebounder with tremendous vision/court-awareness and an intriguing length/strength package, he seems like a perfect fit. He undoubtedly has to improve as a shooter but if somebody puts him in a Draymond Green-type roll, they might get the steal of the 2019 NBA Draft.
EYBL numbers have proven to translate to NBA success as well as any stats at any level of amateur basketball. During the 2017 EYBL season, Shittu averaged 19.8 Pts/9.8 Rebs/3 Ast/1.3 Blk/1.2 Stl for CIA Bounce. Guess how many players have averaged those numbers in the history of the EYBL? ONE. This guy.
Jalen Lecque showcased his entire repertoire during @BrewsterHoops opening set of games in The Bahamas last weekend. Next stop is the @NERRHoops National Prep Showcase to face @MtZionPrep & Link Year...— Mike Yagmin (@MikeYagmin) November 14, 2018
Full @jalenlecque10 highlights & Brewster preview: https://t.co/1iqdB2TQ2o pic.twitter.com/187vnM6O3Z