Credit: Oregon State Athletics

Pac-12 Preview: Draft Prospects

Highlighting the top draft prospects in the Pacific-12 conference heading into the regular season

It is a new year in college basketball and that means a new slate for returning players and hype for many freshman just starting out. Last years draft class was viewed as top heavy with a drastic drop off after the top three prospects, but this season it is not so cut and dry. There is always somewhat of a drop off after the first few picks depending on who you ask, but there is a not a solidified number one pick heading into the season like there was with RJ Barrett in 2018-2019. Obviously that notion proved to be false with the emergence of Zion Williamson and Ja Morant who ended up going ahead of Barrett in the draft. With that said, NBA teams already know who is on their radar and we will be highlighting those players in each conference as we are about to see meaningful college basketball games very soon.

Washington Huskies 

Isaiah Stewart

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’9″ 250

Position: Power Forward/Center

Stewart is a high motor player that does most of his work on the inside using his strength to bully players in the post. He is widely regarded as a potential first round and even top ten selection due to his ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor. Due to often being the tallest player on the floor at the high school level he has been playing as a center mainly focused on doing work in the paint, but his size puts him more in the power forward or small ball five type of role going forward. Because of this, Stewart needs to prove that he can hit mid range jump shots and some three point attempts consistently to stretch the floor, and while that is never a given, he has shown flashes in that area of his game.

Jaden Mcdaniels

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’9″ 200

Position: Small Forward/Power Forward

Mcdaniels is one of the most intriguing prospects in the country heading into this season. He is a 6’9″ combo forward who because of his thin frame and skill set will likely spend most of his time playing on the wing. With legitimate guard skills handling the ball, many have compared his game to Kevin Durant but obviously that is a bit of a reach at this point. If you were going to build a small forward prototype for the professional game, in many peoples minds Mcdaniels is exactly what you would want. He is tall, long, and skilled with a variety of moves both in the mid range and from behind the three point line that allow him to score with ease. Athletically he is at the top end of the draft class as far as running the floor and vertically, two things that will get him plenty of scoring opportunities in fast break situations. The main two narratives to watch going for the freshman are his outside shot and his play on the defensive side. On the high school level Mcdaniels was able to shoot the ball well but somewhat streaky, although that will become much more difficult being guarded by college players. As far as his defense goes he has all of the physical tools to shut down opposing players on the wing but there have been questions about his drive to be a lock down defender. All in all there is no doubt he will be a lottery pick at this point, but with his skill set and physical gifts he is the type of player that could go as high as the first overall selection.

Oregon State

Tres Tinkle

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 6’8″ 220

Position: Small Forward

Tinkle is the coaches son and he plays like it with good feel for the game and a strong basketball I.Q. He has been a high level scorer since coming to campus in 2015-2016, using the ability to get to the basket and shoot from the outside. The fact that he can create a shot and spot up for a deep three are sought after attributes for NBA teams, but there are questions on how well he could get by a defender off of the dribble at the professional level. Defense is going to be a key as scouts watch him this season, and an improvement in this area will go along to help his draft stock. Expect a big season from Tinkle with the lack of talent on the Beavers roster, and after returning for another year he is a Player of the Year candidate within the conference.

Ethan Thompson

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’5″ 190

Position: Point Guard/Shooting Guard

Thompson came to Corvallis after his brother Stephen had already become an established player in the program and much like his brother Ethan has been a productive play maker. He is a do it all type of guard who can shoot, pass, and rebound that if Oregon State as a whole had more team success, the casual fan would be more familiar with his game. There is a lot to like in scouting him when you consider he has good size at 6’5″ with the ability to play either guard position to go with an efficient offensive game. He won’t be competing in a dunk contest anytime soon but his athleticism is more than adequate and allows him to finish strong at the rim. With his brother gone to graduation and not a ton of talent on the roster Thompson along with Tinkle will have plenty of shot opportunities so he should see an increase in overall production.

Colorado 

Tyler Bey

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’7″ 206

Position: Small Forward/Power Forward

Not that long ago a player like Bey would have been defined as a tweener regarding his position, but with the emphasis on production and potential over position fit he is on the NBA radar. At just 6’7″ he seems to play much bigger being able to be a beast on the inside scoring with alley oops, put backs, and grabbing rebounds. He was just shy of averaging a double-double last season at 9.9 rebounds per game, and his high energy on the floor is contagious to teammates. It was obvious that he improved his shot in between his freshman and sophomore year, however he still has a long way to go in that regard after shooting 5 for 22 on three point attempts last season. At the very least he needs to be more effective in the mid range, something he has done in spurts, if he wants to show scouts he can produce outside of the paint. Bey is a very good athlete that can throw down some viscous dunks and that athleticism along with his wingspan makes him a solid shot blocker for his size. His ability to guard multiple positions depending on the match up is an area of his game that could carry him to draft night even if he does continue to struggle shooting the ball.

Oregon

N’Faly Dante

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’11” 230

Position: Center

While Dante is very raw offensively you know what you are going to get with him at this point. He is going to block shots, score inside and rebound using his size and strength. His blend of power and athleticism is not something you find with every big man so it is no surprise he is being viewed as a potential lottery pick. There is currently the issue that he will not be eligible to play until after the first semester, if at all this season, and that is something that could effect his stock in a negative way. If he is able to get on the court and make an impact for an Oregon expected to play a high level then it won’t be a problem, but if he struggles in the second half of the season there is a real chance his stock takes a big hit with such a small sample size.

Christopher Duarte

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’6″ 190

Position: Shooting Guard

Duarte is a not a name that has gotten a ton of attention heading into the season, but he can flat out play. In route to winning the Junior College National Player of the Year award, he averaged 19 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 31.1 minutes per game. There is not much he can’t do and that was on display shooting 40% percent on three point attempts, and 54.1% from the field overall. His athleticism is solid and he can finish at the rim with ease, having no issues getting by defenders off of the dribble. Obviously the competition level is going to increase in opposing teams but also the competition for minutes on his own team so there will likely be a drop off in the numbers from his junior college time.

Payton Pritchard

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 6’2″ 200

Position: Point Guard

Pritchard declared for the draft after last season but elected to return once receiving feedback, and that is good news for his stock and for Oregon. He is not a player that has great athleticism or size but he is one that just figures out how to score the ball and make an impact on a nightly basis. The Ducks had a talented roster last season that saw his numbers drop slightly from his sophomore to his junior season across almost completely across the board. His scoring numbers should go up and he is still improving as a facilitator, something that will be a major point of emphasis when teams are scouting him. Defense has always been the biggest question in his game although he can get can steals, but quicker or bigger guards can give him some trouble.

UCLA

Chris Smith

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’9″ 210

Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward

Smith has more potential and talent than many players in college basketball but it has just not cultivated in much production over his first two seasons. Last year was billed as a possible breakout season and it did not happen, and that same sentiment is occurring in the media heading into this season. There is good reason for the predictions when you consider that Smith is 6’9″ with guard skills and he shows flashes of being able to score in a well rounded way. His athleticism and size allow him to finish with flair above the rim and guard multiple positions giving him the physical tools necessary to compete at the highest level. Only time will tell whether or not he can live up to the hype this year, and it is possible that a new coach in town can help him achieve those goals.

Southern California 

Onyeka Okongwu

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’9″ 245

Position: Power Forward/Center

Okongwu is a skilled big man that arrived in Los Angeles as part of a loaded recruiting class for the Trojans in 2019. He primarily played played center at the high school level and he will likely do the same at the college level but he can also play at the four, especially as a professional. Most of his damage comes around the basket using his athleticism and motor to score inside and block shots which is no surprise given his build, but he can also step out and hit a jump shot as well. If he shows the ability the stretch the floor while also dominating in the paint then he is the type of player that could see his stock rise throughout the season.

Isaiah Mobley

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’10” 235

Position: Power Forward

Another skilled big man from the Trojans 2019 recruiting class, Mobley has an impressive versatile game that has him being watched closely by NBA teams. He has been most effective creating his shot off of the dribble, being able to both pull up for a jump shot and get to the basket. Considering his size he handles the ball and runs the floor at a high level, and while the coaches at USC will reign that in to some degree he should have some highlight plays after grabbing a rebound and taking it coast to coast. Athletically he can jump well and has good length leading to solid rim protection, although he can struggle with quicker players on the perimeter. There are freshman that receiving much more hype heading into the regular season, but he has as much skill and potential as almost anyone starting their college career this year.

Max Agbonkpolo

Height/Weight: 6’8″ 190

Position: Point Guard/Small Forward

Coming out of powerhouse high school Mater Dei, Agbonkpolo is one of the more intriguing but also the hardest prospects to analyze due to the way he was used by his coaches up to this point. Most reports coming out of Los Angeles have the freshman playing off of the ball on the wing, but he also has been playing point guard in high school and AAU causing some crazy mismatches for teams with guards who are much smaller. If he ends up playing well as the lead guard in his time at USC then the next question will be is he a legit professional point guard prospect or will that be too tough of a jump. Regardless of how he is used he should make a big impact this season at 6’8″ with good length and the ability to put the ball on the floor to make plays. His athleticism is high level with plenty of impressive dunks, and given his size he has more than adequate speed from end to end. He needs to add weight to his 190 pound frame, and the player at the beginning of the season will likely look very different than the one at the end of his time with the Trojans, whenever that is.

Arizona

Nico Mannion

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’3″ 190

Position: Point Guard

Mannion is being billed as a potential lottery pick who is looking to get Arizona back to the “Point Guard U” days. He can fill it up on the offensive end using his quickness and ball handling to get to the basket with a strong ability to shoot the basketball. His athleticism will surprise some people and his end to end speed is immediately going to be some of the best in the college game. Scouts already know he can score at a high level so his play on the defensive end of the floor is going to be the biggest key to how high his stock can go. If he struggles to shoot the ball or as a defender he will likely still be one and done, however the lottery or the first round will be in question at that point.

Josh Green

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6’6″ 210

Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward

Following in the footsteps on Ben Simmons, Green traveled from Australia to the states with the hope of elevating his game to the NBA level. The physical tools are all there with elite athleticism to go with his 6’6″ 210 frame putting him on the radar of scouts over the last couple of years. His shot from the outside is solid, being able to spot up or create off of the dribble, and his ball handling should allow him to play at either shooting guard or small forward. The most underrated aspect of his game is passing the ball, something that he has done very well in high school playing with a ton of talent on the roster at IMG. His physical gifts means there is no reason he should not be able to guard multiple positions going forward, and if he does that then he can easily be considered a lottery pick in June.

Chase Jeter

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 6’10” 240

Position: Center

With the movement of the game towards big men consistently shooting three pointers, Jeter is more in the mold of a throwback player working exclusively around the basket. After a couple of lackluster seasons at Duke he elected to head to Tuscon where he had a solid season averaging 10.9 points and and 6.6 rebounds in 24.8 minutes per game. Jeter runs the floor well and is productive in fast break situations especially when trailing the play getting an open lane to use his athleticism to throw down a big dunk. His quickness needs to improve and teams are going to want to see him be a more consistent rim protector after averaging under a block per game last season.

Stanford

Daejon Davis

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’3″ 175

Position: Point Guard

After a solid freshman season many people, including his coach, were expecting the point guard to take a major jump and be one of the best guards in the Pac 12. While that did not exactly occur he did put together another season that showed promise averaging 11.4 points and 4.4 assists in 30.2 minutes per game. Those numbers will need to improve if he wants to make the next step into the professional ranks and he will have every opportunity to do so with the departures of the two leading scorers for the Cardinal last season. He is quick enough with the ball in his hands to get by defenders, and he can throw it down with solid athleticism in his arsenal. Turnovers were a problem his freshman season and he did improve in that regard as a sophomore, but he can still get better in that area of his game. Davis is one of the least likely players on this list to be drafted in 2020 but he has the ability to play at a high level, he just needs to take another step in his game and he could be on his way to defying the odds. Another analytic point to make is that he took far more three point attempts last season leading to some questionable shot selection and a decrease in his efficiency.

Washington State

CJ Elleby

Class: Sophomore

Height/Weight: 6’6″ 200

Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward

Another player who is overlooked nationally due to a lack of team success, Elleby quietly had one of the best freshman seasons in the country. He flirted with the draft but decided to come back and attempt to get his stock to a first round level, and if he shows improvement this year that could very likely be the case. Some players just know how to score and you can put Elleby on that list after averaging 14.7 points during his freshman season in which he shot the ball at 41.4% on three point attempts. His athleticism is fairly average but he can still finish at the rim, and quick players can give him some trouble on the defensive end. While the shooting numbers were impressive in his freshman season he can get a bit long in his release so it would benefit him to try and speed up his shooting stroke. With leading scorer Robert Franks graduated Elleby is now the go to scorer for the Cougars and should his production improve with the same kind of efficiency as last year he will be in consideration for a draft pick.

 

 

 

 

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