In Parts 1 and 2, I looked at 15 Seniors who have good shots of being drafted and making a NBA roster next season. Here I will look at 5 more Seniors who I don’t think will be drafted, but have a chance at being next season’s Wes Matthews.
Gavin Edwards – (UConn – 6’10, 234) – Power Forward/Center – (10.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg) – Edwards made the most of his opportunity to play after being a bench player for 3 seasons. On offense, he has good post presence, works hard getting position on the blocks and has nice touch around the basket. He is also a very good system player, setting solid screens and getting his teammates good looks. He has no presence outside the lane though, and is not athletic or gifted enough to be a regular offensive option. He uses his body well pushing players off the blocks and does a good job blocking out. While not quick, he does to a good job helping out on screens and then recovering to his man. He does not have much experience against very skilled big men and will probably have trouble keeping them from scoring, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he adjusted just as easily.
Wayne Chism – (Tennessee – 6’9, 246) – Power Forward – (12.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg) – Chism is another example of an under-athletic big man who makes his team better through high-energy play and leadership. He took it to another level this season with the mid-season dismissal of Tyler Smith, arguably the Vols vest player, and rallying the team to within one point of the Final Four. Offensively, he can play both inside and out, though his body is must better suited to playing in the paint. While he has developed good range on his jump shot, he needs to become much more aggressive, and not settle for those jumpers. If he does get to the rim and draws fouls, he is a good free throw shooter. Defensively, he moves very well for his size, and can guard on the perimeter. Again, he needs to be more aggressive using his body in the post. Chism offers a lot of intangibles that separate him from the rest of the available players, and hopefully that will get him is shot in the NBA.
Ryan Thompson – (Rider- 6’6, 220) – Shooting Guard – (17.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 32% 3pt.) – Thompson, the younger brother of the Sacramento King’s Jason, is certainly not the same kind of player his brother is. He is a slashing scorer, gets to the rim with ease, has great size for a shooting guard and has developed a decent perimeter shot. One major issue is that his shot selection has seem to have gotten worse over the last 2 years, but that may have been more of a function of the attention he drew as his stature rose. When he penetrates, he uses his body well and gets to the foul line – where last year he shot 81%. Defensively, he is a good on-ball defender, though he needs to be more focused on lateral movement instead of chasing after his man. He closes well on shooters and he is a solid rebounder. While it is a long-shot that he will be drafted, he should be able to impress some teams during pre-draft workouts and get a chance to prove himself during the summer.
Lazar Hayward – (Marquette – 6’6, 225) – Small Forward – (18.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2 spg, 35% 3pt.) – Who better than Matthews’ old Marquette teammate to step up and be the next Matthews. Hayward is a solid team basketball player. When Marquette was dominated by the guard trio of Matthews, McNeal and James, he was content to be the down-low presence, and when they graduated, he took over as the team leader and developed a more perimeter/slashing presence. On offense, he is much more skilled playing down low, but he has improved his perimeter shooting to the point where you need to guard him out there. While not very quick, he finds holes in the defense and exploits other team’s weaknesses. On defense, he is a high energy presence, providing of all of the little things – help defense, strong rebounding, and taking charges – which make the team look good. Since he projects as a small forward at the next level, he needs to improve his perimeter defense and lateral movement. Like his former teammate Matthews, there should be a place for him at the next level, it’s just a matter of finding the right fit.
Ben Uzoh – (Tulsa – 6’3, 205) – Point Guard – (15.3 ppg, 4.7 apg, 4.7 apg) – Uzoh is a strong-bodied point guard who has good control, sees the court well, and is a good penetrator. His perimeter shot is inconsistent, and he needs to work more on his improving his shot selection. As a point guard, he is a very good passer, especially into the post, where he had the chance to play with Jerome Jordan for a few years. Don’t look for him to move the ball quickly in transition though – he doesn’t have great speed and is lacking that extra burst. Defensively, he is adequate, not making many mistakes, but not really making plays either. He keeps himself between the man and the basket, moves his feet well and is strong enough to get through screens. He isn’t going to wow anyone with his abilities, but he is a solid player who makes few mistakes, and would make a great option as a back-up point guard in the NBA.
While these 5 players may not get the attention on draft night, I fully expect to see these four players spend at least some time in a NBA uniform in the future.
To the readers out there – who are your picks for the draft sleepers?