Rivals Roundtable: Overlooked early entries, canceled events
This week in the Rivals Roundtable, the national analyst team of Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald is talking NBA Draft early entry. Who is being underrated, who could use an extra year? Also, what spring event are the guys missing the most?
1. Which early entry candidate is being overlooked?
Bossi: I’m going to cheat because there are two that are neck and neck for me. Arizona’s Zeke Nnaji and Alabama’s Kira Lewis. I’ll keep beating this drum, but I think the 6-foot-10 Nnaji is the best of Arizona’s three likely one-and-done freshmen and he projects nicely to the NBA. I see Jarett Allen of Brooklyn and think that Nnaji can easily be that type of promising young big man compared to the late first rounder many are projecting him to be.
As for Lewis, he just had the quietest – in terms of getting national recognition -- 18.5 points and 5.2 assists per game from an SEC sophomore we’ve seen in some time. Sure, he could clean up his decision-making and he needs some more strength but I love his upside. Nate Oats and his staff let him play full throttle and he thrived. Lewis doesn’t even turn 19 until Monday and has two years of college experience. Put it this way, he’s still younger than a handful of high school seniors who would have been in the McDonald’s All-American Game earlier this week.
Evans: Maybe he isn’t being overlooked by those within his league but Saddiq Bey is someone that I am surprised isn’t getting more love in the lead up to the NBA Draft. Listed at 6-foot-8, the wing is the epitome of a late bloomer. Bey is someone that can go and get a basket, like he did against Georgetown earlier this year to the tune of 33 points, but also defend and rebound at a solid clip. He also comes from the Villanova program whose players have been prepared to succeed in the NBA.
McDonald: I remember like it was yesterday being in NYC for the Under Armour Association live period event in April 2017 and the first game I watched there was a 6-foot-6 wing named Saddiq Bey who didn’t even have a profile in our database at the time. He had some mid-major attention at the time but quickly blew up and ended up at Villanova after initially signing with NC State. I’ve been watching him closely since and love his game. He’s now up to 6-foot-8, averaged 16 points per game this year while shooting 45.1% from three-point range.. I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t have a good NBA career.
2. Which player who has entered his name into the draft would you advise to return to school?
Bossi: It’s not for sure that Illinois sophomore Ayo Dosunmu is going to enter the Draft, but I’d be relatively surprised if he doesn’t. I’m also a big believer in him finding a way to stick if he chooses to come out this year because of his versatility, work ethic, character and toughness.
That being said, I’d sure love to see what he could do for his stock by playing a junior season for the Illini. If he plays college ball in 2020-21, I’ll have Dosunmu on my short list of potential All-Americans and I’ll have high expectations for Brad Underwood’s team. If he came back and built on the way he finished his sophomore season, I could see his Draft stock getting a tremendous boost.
Evans: There is talk that Kentucky sophomore E.J. Montgomery could potentially enter the NBA Draft. However, after seeing P.J. Washington and Nick Richards, two big men that were in similar situations, get better and enhance their draft stock the past two years, Montgomery should do the same. The upcoming draft is not a strong one but for someone who averaged under five points and five rebounds last season, getting selected may be far-fetched.
Maybe he is just tired of college and wants a fresh start but with there being a strong chance that the NBA Summer League will be cancelled. If he were to go undrafted, the chances of impressing any suitors this summer are practically impossible. Montgomery sticking it out another year with oodles of minutes available at Kentucky should be all that he should want and need in order to enter the 2021 NBA Draft in much better shape.
McDonald: I’d like to see what Lewis could do at Alabama with another year under Oats. I could see him really boosting his stock and potentially working his way into the lottery or higher. He would have a lot of talent around that would give him a chance to make a real run in the NCAA Tournament while also proving he can play point guard at a high level.
3. Which spring event that has been canceled will you miss the most?
Bossi: Maybe it’s because I would have just gotten home from it, but man I’m really missing the McDonald’s All-American Game this year. For one, I find value each year in the workouts and the ability to connect with NBA scouts and front office people to get their perspective on high school’s elite players is invaluable.
Most of all, it’s a nice sendoff for a group of kids that I’ve been working closely with for the last four years. There isn’t as much media around, the setting is relaxed and there is actually time to talk about things other than “Where are you going, when are you visiting, when are you deciding?” etc. I miss it.
Evans: I was going to say MLB’s Opening Day and the Masters Tournament, but the Final Four has to be the answer. I sit here writing this during a moment when, without the coronavirus pandemic, I would be in Atlanta, meeting old friends and gearing up for two phenomenal contests in the lead up to Monday’s national title game.
The camaraderie at the Final Four is great and it wraps up a long season that started with recruiting events and carries through offseason development, preseason training, practices and then the navigation of the schedule.That will be no more, along with finally realizing the national championship. Here is to hoping that next year’s will be the best ever.
McDonald: With the news of the NCAA extending the dead period through May, I’m starting to get worried about June events getting wiped out too. That would mean the two high school team camp weekends where college coaches can go out wouldn’t happen. Those were so much fun last year that I would be really crushed if we can’t get those in.