Sports Reporter

P.J. Washington

Tyler Herro, P. J. Washington and Jordan Nwora (from left) are on the radar of NBA scouts this season. WDRB Photo/Eric Crawford

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The best NBA scouts never exhale.

They are always attending games, watching games, reviewing games, talking to coaches about players, talking to media members about players, talking to student managers about players and ... you get the picture.

I also enjoy checking the picture.

What do NBA scouts think about the super-sized improvement Louisville forward Jordan Nwora has made this season?

What about Indiana freshman Romeo Langford? Should he still expect to hear his name called in the NBA Draft Lottery (first 14 picks) in June?

How many of John Calipari’s Kentucky guys project as first-round selections?

Has Murray State point guard Ja Morant truly positioned himself as the second pick behind Zion Williamson of Duke?

Will Charles Bassey of Western Kentucky advance from Conference USA Player of the Year to a first-round selection?

I had other questions for two NBA scouts that I trust. But this week, I focused on those local players. Here are their composite takes on guys in this area.

Is Jordan Nwora a possible 2019 first-round pick?

SCOUT ONE: “Nwora is definitely on the radar. I’ve seen games where he has carried that team. He can really shoot it, and his rebounding has gotten better …. He plays more to his athleticism defensively. That’s where I need to see more.

“He would benefit from the P.J. Washington plan of staying in school another year.”

SCOUT TWO: “Nwora is really an interesting prospect because of how much he has improved and how well he can shoot the ball.

“Is he on the radar? Yes. Does he need to stay in school? Yes. He’s playing for a coach (Chris Mack) who has helped him improve and will get him even better next season. He should focus on coming back next year and really tearing it u,p and there will be plenty of opportunity for him.”

Has Romeo Langford held his place in the Lottery?

SCOUT ONE: “He’s still a lottery pick because the overall talent is there. You can see it. He can score, and people are always going to like that. The final piece that people will be looking at is his shooting, but he’s gotten better with that this season.”

SCOUT TWO: “I like Romeo. To me, Romeo is a top-five pick. He will go no later than No. 8.

“I know some people have questioned him because of the season that Indiana is having, but look at who he is playing with.

“They have one guy (Juwan Morgan) who will probably play in the G-League. The rest of those guys would be substitutes coming off the bench on the good teams in the Big Ten. It’s just not a very talented team.

“The first game I scouted Indiana in person was at Duke, and Romeo was one of the few guys who could even function in the first half. The rest of the guys could not function until the game was already over. The stage was too big.

“Romeo has an NBA skill set. What can’t he do? He can drive. He can finish around the basket. He’s a very smooth and balanced player.

“Does he need to improve his shot? Yes. Does he need to get stronger? Yes — so do nine out every 10 guys coming out of college basketball. Romeo will be fine.”

How many of UK players project as first-rounders in 2019?

SCOUT ONE: “I love everything P.J. Washington has done. I love his approach to this season. He’s gotten himself into better shape. He’s shown he can become more of a facilitator while also showing that he can drive the ball into the lane and score. His rebounding and defense have also improved.

“A year ago, he was probably a second-rounder, but he’s played his way into the first round. He’s a leader.

“With Keldon Johnson, the first thing you like is that he plays with a chip on his shoulder. He takes pride in his defense. He’s gotten better with his shot as the season has gone along.

“You’d like to see him get better in all areas, but you could say that about every freshman.

“Tyler Herro has a chance to get drafted, probably more in the second round than the first. He could benefit from another year. But you have to fill 60 spots, and he’ll be considered for one of them if he wants to be, because he can shoot the ball.

“Ashton Hagans is probably a year away. His defense and ball-handling have been solid, but you want to see more from his offensive game.

“Reid Travis is a really good college player, but does he have a position in the pros? That’s the thing he’s going to get caught up with. Is he going to be able to score around the basket the way he does in college at the next level?”

SCOUT TWO: “P.J. Washington just keeps getting better and better. He’s performing at a very high level right now. He’s rebounding, scoring, defending, making big shots. He’s the force on that team.

“He made a great decision coming back to school, and he’s put himself in position to take advantage of the decision. More guys should pay attention to the lesson of P.J. Washington.

“Keldon Johnson will be a first-round pick and probably a lottery pick, because he’s got a skill that not many other players have. He can make the pull-up mid-range jumper.

“That’s a lost art for a lot of players, but he’s got that weapon in his game. One or two dribbles, stop on dime, give you a nickel in change and BAM, he also gives you basket.

“Does he need to get stronger? Yes. But he will.

“Tyler Herro needs to stay for another year. He needs to get stronger. Ashton Hagans needs to stay for another year. He needs to improve his offense. They’re not ready, but they will be one day.

“I call Reid Travis, ‘A Bubble Man,” because he’s one of those guys who is going to bounce between the end of the bench and G-League. He’s going to be on the bubble until he proves himself.

“He’s a good kid, a smart kid who has a degree from Stanford. But he’s probably one of those guys who is a very good college player who is going to have to fight just to stay in the NBA. There’s nothing wrong with that when you have a degree from Stanford, right?

Will Ja Morant be taken in the first five? The top two?

SCOUT ONE: “He’s a top-five pick. He’s a big-time athlete who is fast and explosive and just a really good passer. This isn’t a great point guard class, and he’s at the top of the list.”

SCOUT TWO: “He’s as much fun to watch as any player in the country. He will definitely go in the top 10 and probably the top five.

“He gets to the basket whenever he wants to. He’ll get you a ton of assists. He’s got great vision. He’s an NBA athlete. He’s definitely the whole show there, but I think he would be successful anywhere in college basketball, not just the OVC.”

Charles Bassey — first- or second-rounder?

SCOUT ONE: “Another guy where you have to figure out his position. He’s kind of a center, but is he really explosive enough to play that position at the next level?

“I think people want to see more. It’s certainly a possibility, because he’s been such an effective player for Western Kentucky.”

SCOUT TWO: “I like Bassey more than most scouts. I think he’s kind of a sleeper, because he has tremendous upside. People have undervalued him.

“I know some people question his size, but he’s got excellent hands and footwork. And he’s more mobile than he looks. The NBA today is all about mobility, and he’s got that piece. He can move. He can run. He can jump. He can create action, and he’s got great reactions. He’s got it.”

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