Throughout NBA history, the overwhelming majority of prospect talent has been fielded from NCAA Division I schools. There has also been a recent influx of international talent over the past 15-20 years. Sub-DI prospects may be few and far between, but there have certainly been some diamonds in the rough that have emerged over the years. The likes of George Gervin, Earl Monroe, Ben Wallace, Charles Oakley, Manute Bol, Darrell Armstrong, Phil Jackson, Rick Mahorn, Dick Barnett, Jerry Sloan, Walt Frazier, Nate Archibald, Willis Reed, Terry Porter, Dennis Rodman, and Scottie Pippen and more spent their college years at small Division II, Division III, or NAIA programs before eventually carving out long, successful NBA careers.
In recent years, there has been a lull in sub-DI alumni evolving into NBA All-Star or starter caliber players like those listed above (partially driven by the increase of sub-DI standouts transferring to the DI level after early success at their initial school, partially driven by historical DII powerhouses transitioning to DI over the years), but NBA front offices have certainly been doing their due diligence on the fringes to identify under the radar DII players with a chance to contribute as back end rotation pieces, two-way contract contributors, and G League developmental swings.
We sat down with Chris Kent, Basketball Operations Associate for the Chicago Bulls. At the PBC, Chris helped with on-court workouts and with player development. From being an assistant coach for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants to working at USF as the Director of Player Development, Chris is a rising star in basketball and we were fortunate to sit down with him and dig in.
See what he had to say.
Mike Daum is a 6’9” forward/big for the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. The Nebraska farm-raised bucket-getter has athletic genes. As the son of two former professional athletes, Daum is equipped with NBA size/length and impressive coordination for his size. Daum has built upon this baseline size with hard work and countless shooting reps and evolved into one of the most accomplished scorers in the history of college basketball. Daum recently followed in the footsteps of fellow senior scoring sensation, Chris Clemons, by eclipsing the 3,000 career point mark and breaking into the top ten NCAA D1 all-time scoring list.
Daum has the Jackrabbits on the precipice of earning their fourth straight Summit League championship and NCAA tournament berth, with the hopes of pulling off a first round upset to earn the program’s first ever NCAA tournament win. If the Jackrabbits do make the big dance, NBA scouts and decision-makers will be looking for Daum to prove himself against high-major competition and help show that he has what it takes to compete against the longer, stronger, quicker athletes that await at the professional level.
In the modern NBA, fours and fives no longer live on the block as solely back-to-the-basket post-up threats. Much of an NBA forward/big’s offensive value is now derived from their ability to space the floor. Stretch bigs open up the offense for the rest of their teammates by pulling rim protectors out of their comfort zone and diminishing their effectiveness as help side rim protectors.
Through the NBA pace-and-space / Moreyball revolution, pick-and-roll actions have remained a mainstay as a prominent offensive action. What has changed, however, is the demand for ball screening bigs to be capable of not only providing roll gravity as a pick-and-roll drive threats, but also as pick-and-pop three-point shooting threats. Though circumstance and offensive scheme may mask some prospects’ potential as pick-and-pop threats, showing effectiveness and natural feel as a screener, popper, and shooter from deep on even a limited volume of pick-and-pop opportunities helps in projecting potential translatability to the NBA.
In our third Film Room Friday installment, the PBC scouting team has performed a deep-dive into forwards and bigs that project as effective pick-and-pop shooters. To provide some context, let’s first lay out a few examples of NBA players that provide valuable floor spacing, offensive versatility, and catch-and-shoot acumen as pick-and-pop scorers:
The 2019 Professional Basketball Combine (PBC) will be held at Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, CA on May 21-22. The PBC is a secondary NBA draft combine designed to give players an opportunity to showcase their talents in front of team decision makers and NBA executives.
“We are thrilled to bring the event to LA and work with an amazing host site in Mamba Sports Academy,” said Combine Director Jake Kelfer.
In the last two years, the PBC has had 47 players attend the combine including the 2018 NBA G-League Rookie of the Year, Antonio Blakeney. Immediately following the event 100% of players have gone on to continue their basketball career, 23 players played in NBA Summer League, and 9 players signed prestigious two way contracts.
The event has been featured in major media outlets including stories in Sports Illustrated, NBC Sports, and Hoops Hype and in 2018 the event had representatives from 20+ NBA teams in attendance.
In 2019, the PBC will feature 24 draft prospects who will participate in combine testing, on court workouts, NBA team interviews, and a prospect development program.
For more information and updates about the PBC, please visit www.professionalbasketballcombine.com and follow @probballcombine on social media.
Markus Howard is a 5’11” junior lead guard for the Marquette Golden Eagles. Howard is one of the most explosive scorers in the nation, routinely scoring in the 30’s and 40’s. He is one of the most dynamic off-the-dribble shooting threats among 2019 draft eligible prospects, and despite being the focal point of the opposition’s scouting and defensive schematics, continues to torch team after team. The Howard-led Golden Eagles find themselves just outside the top ten in the most recent AP Poll, and are very much in contention for a top 3 NCAA tournament seed. If Howard can continue his scoring run and carry his team to wins throughout postseason play, he has a chance to be a viable 2019 NBA Draft candidate as a potential early entrant.
Bennie Boatwright is a 6’9 ½” senior forward for the USC Trojans. Though USC has had an up and down season, Boatwright has shined in his final collegiate campaign in Los Angeles. His sharp shooting from deep has landed him in the school and conference record books, and helped solidify his professional archetype as a stretch forward. Fresh off a record setting 10 3PM performance against conference rival Cal, Boatwright will look to provide leadership, stability, and volume scoring for the Trojans throughout their last five games of the season to build some momentum going into a seemingly unpredictable PAC-12 tournament. Boatwright has been on the radar of NBA scouts since his strong sophomore campaign, and is making his final push to prove that he has what it takes to make it at the next level.
We sat down with Charlie La Vine, a former PepsiCo employee and future lawyer. In 2018, Charlie took the initiative to lead the charge for our PBC Player Product Packages which were a huge hit for players, media, and staff. Various companies from all over the world participated including MVMT, FEAT, Thread Wallets, Deuce Brand, FWD Clothing and many more. As Charlie continues his career, we wanted to spend some time with him and see what makes him so valuable.
See what he had to say.
In the modern NBA, it is essential to complement your stars and primary creators with a plethora of off-ball wings capable of spacing the floor and sticking it from deep. Such shooting prowess adds offensive value both from the perspective of their conversion of catch-and-shoot threes, as well as the gravity they provide as a means of creating operating room for drivers and shot creators. Modern NBA offensive schemes are very much reliant on the presence of reliable spot-up shooters, so draft prospects that show consistency in catch-and-shoot/spot-up possessions from deep may be more valuable than ever.
In our second Film Room Friday installment, the PBC scouting team has performed a deep-dive into under-the-radar prospects that have shown projectable spot-up shooting prowess and an ability to counter high-hand over-commitments and attack closeouts.
Phil Booth is a 6’3” senior combo guard for the Villanova Wildcats. Booth, a fifth year senior, has provided a calming leadership presence throughout his collegiate career. Through his junior season, Booth was featured in a more complementary, low usage, off-ball offensive role while surrounded by NBA talent (Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo, Omari Spellman, Josh Hart, Ryan Arcidiacono, etc.). This year, Booth has been thrust into a more prominent role, and has handled the uptick in offensive responsibility quite effectively. After a slow start, the Wildcats are right back in the thick of things, leading the Big East and aspiring to make yet another deep NCAA tournament run. As a result of his team’s title runs and waves of NBA talent, Booth has had NBA scouts’ eyes on him for a while now. Booth will look to continue his strong individual play through the remainder of conference play and into the tournament, and has a legitimate chance to turn that former peripheral NBA talent evaluator attention into serious NBA consideration.
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