LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- When Immanuel Quickley confirmed his plans to leave the University of Kentucky for the NBA on Monday, he became the 27th college basketball underclassmen to announce he was finished with college basketball.
He will not be the last.
Toss in the seniors, foreign players and other dreamers, and My Favorite NBA Scout said when we get to the deadline for NBA Draft declarations April 26, the numbers will be similar to recent seasons.
“The dream dies hard,” he said. “There will be 600 guys trying to fit into 60 spots (in the first- and second-rounds).”
There is no reason to worry about all 600. There is reason to discuss players with local ties whose names have percolated in draft discussions.
That is what My Favorite NBA Scout and I did this morning. He’s a smart, savvy talent evaluator for a solid franchise. He’s been around the game for years and said this was “the worst draft I can remember.”
I’ll call the roll:
Jordan Nwora (NBA bound)
“I’m a fan,” the scout said. “I think he’s a first-round pick because he can and will score the ball. His shot is legitimate from NBA distance. He had some big games while playing in the ACC.
“For some reason, people forget he did average 7.7 rebounds, so he’s more than a shooter. He’ll go somewhere between No. 25 and 40.
“The question about him is athleticism. He’s not a super athlete. He’ll be just an average athlete in the NBA.
“Some people will worry about that, but I think his shooting ability really raises his chances. Plus, he’s helped by the fact this is not a very good draft.”
Steven Enoch (NBA eligible)
“Might go between No. 50 and 60,” the scout said. “But he’s a guy who’s going to have to battle through the G League to make it. He just didn’t show enough on offense. But I could see him making it one day.”
Dwayne Sutton (NBA eligible)
“Won’t get picked but could probably get a spot in the G League if that’s what he wants to do,” the scout said.
Jay Scrubb (NBA bound)
“I’ve heard his name, but I really don’t know enough about him,” the scout said.
“But generally with junior college players, there are just too many questions for a guy to be picked in the first round.
“Who did he play against? How good was the competition? What kind of problems did he have that kept him in junior college for two seasons?
“Just too many questions for a guy in junior college to go in the first round.”
The last junior college player selected in the NBA Draft was Donta Smith, another former U of L commit, who was selected by Atlanta with the No. 34 pick in 2004.
Smith, 36, played in 61 NBA games over parts of two seasons before he moved his pro career to Europe.
The last junior college player selected in the first round of the NBA Draft was Qyntel Woods, a 6-foot-8-inch forward. Portland drafted Woods with the 21st pick in 2002. He scored 691 points while playing 167 games over four seasons.
“Too much uncertainty,” the scout said. “You want to see guys against the best competition.”
Immanuel Quickley (NBA bound)
“I’m a big Immanuel Quickley fan,” the scout said. “He’s one of the best shooters in the country who can make three-point shots with confidence. And he’s a terrific free-throw shooter.
“I think he’ll be a first-round pick, but he’s probably ranked from 20 to 40 on boards across the league because he’s a very good athlete but not a great athlete.
“That's the question some people have about him. He’s got to mature and keep improving and prove that he can defend against NBA athletes.
“But I like the way that he improved this season and showed that he can play within a team concept. That showed me he’s one of those guys who will listen and accept coaching and have a long career. He benefited from playing at Kentucky.
“His shooting ability stands out and makes him a first-round prospect. I’ll take a guy who can make shots over somebody who is always driving to the basket and taking a beating.”
Tyrese Maxey (NBA bound)
“Lottery pick, probably in the 10-14 range,” the scout said. “Physically, Maxey is fabulous.
“Has all the tools and athletic ability that you need to succeed. He definitely has NBA athleticism and maybe all-star athleticism. Tremendous upside. Showed that he was unafraid of the big shots and the big moments.
“He’ll have to continue to polish all of his skills, because he’s inconsistent. But you can say that about nearly every player in draft. He’s got a chance to be a really good one, but he’s young.”
Ashton Hagans (NBA bound)
“I like him,” the scout said. “I think he’s going to make it. I know a lot of people have him going in the second round, but I could see him going as high as No. 25.
“He’s a good passer, a good defender and a good athlete. I know people question his shot, but if you look at his numbers from last season, he showed he’s capable of shooting the ball better.
“I also look at his free throw shooting — 76.1% last year and 81% this year. That tells me he’s capable of shooting better if he’s willing to work on it.”
I asked if Hagans’ status would be affected by the ending to his season, when he did not make the trip to Florida for UK’s final regular-season game.
“I’m sure that will factor into it,” he said. “A lot of people will ask what happened. They’ll want answers.”
Nick Richards (undecided)
“To me, he’s a first-round pick,” he said.
“Great athlete. Great physical tools. Intelligent defender. Got better and better. Still learning how to play the game, but that means there’s still some upside there.
“I really like him. He knows what his strengths are, and he plays to them. He showed he can take coaching. He learned the value of beating people down the floor.
“I can see Richards going anywhere from No. 20 to 35.”
EJ Montgomery (undecided)
“Needs to stay in school,” the scouts said. “I just don’t think he’s ready. He hasn’t shown enough. He’s still got more to learn.
“He needs to come back and have a big year and make the kind of improvement Richards made. He hasn’t shown that he can dominate against college players. How is he going to do that against the best athletes in the world?”
Trayce Jackson-Davis (undecided)
“Needs to improve his shot,” the scout said. “He’s an NBA athlete who scored a lot of points over college athletes. But at his size (6 feet, 9 inches tall) he’s going to have to prove that he’s got an NBA shot from 12-15 feet. He hasn’t done that yet. He can do it. But he has to show it.”
Charles Bassey (undecided)
“One of the hardest guys to call, because he missed (all but 10 games) with that (leg) injury,” the scout said.
“I really liked him last year (before Bassey pulled out of the 2019 draft to return to WKU). He can really rebound. But he’s tough to project because of his situation. I’m sure he’s all over the boards, depending upon which team you talk to.”
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