Following an impressive showing at the 2018 Division B European U18 Championship (13.5 PPG, 8.0 REB, 6.0 AST), Vrenz Bleijenbergh was offered a scholarship by the Arizona Wildcats and was thrust into the conversation of 2000-born European prospects with potential EuroLeague and/or NBA futures. With his extraordinary combination of length and skill, the 19-year-old led Belgium to a bronze medal and got on the radar of multiple NBA front offices. Bleijenbergh tested the 2019 NBA Draft waters under the representation and advisement of Yannick Kizito of Wasserman, but withdrew ahead of the deadline as he was unable to accept any of his workout invitations because his team was still competing in the playoffs. Since the beginning of the current season, the Belgian is a key contributor to the rotation of the Antwerp Giants, where he regularly matches up against quality European competition in the Basketball Champions League. Due to his outstanding playmaking ability, Bleijenbergh can take on the role as a floor general and adds a different element to last year’s runner-up in the Belgian Pro Basketball League and BCL Final Four participant.
After dominating the Michigan prep hoops scene at New Haven High and shining on the Nike EYBL AAU circuit, Weems shocked the nation by committing to DePaul, spurning the likes of Michigan, Michigan State, Oregon, and Ohio State. Weems, a highly touted but somewhat underrated recruit (RSCI: 53), also accumulated valuable international experience, competing for USA Basketball winning gold medals in the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship and the 2018 U17 World Cup. The versatile freshman is off to a great start to his college career and has all the tools to eventually translate as an impact NBA forward, but has been omitted from many of the early mainstream 2020 NBA Draft boards and mocks. Expect that to change as the season progresses. With plus-measurables and athleticism anchoring an ever-evolving skill set, Weems is certainly a diaper dandy to key in on as a potential riser and eventual one-and-done candidate.
Ty-Shon Alexander is a dynamic 6’4” scoring wing that is off to a hot start to his junior season at Creighton. His strongest trait is the ability to knock down shots from the perimeter. After converting on 33% of his threes as a freshman on 2.9 attempts/game, he increased his efficiency and volume as a sophomore, knocking down 36.5% on 7.8 attempts/game. He's now converting at 57.9% on 6.3 3PA's per game through the first 3 games of the 2019-20 season and, although this clip is unsustainable, he looks to have continued this pattern of improvement. Alexander's confidence as a shooter makes him a dangerous scoring weapon when he gets into a rhythm, as he is also capable of creating offense in other ways if run off the line. Alexander is an intriguing prospect who will be worth keeping tabs on throughout the season and could potentially creep up draft boards as the season progresses.
The former Five-Star guard is suiting up for the Houston Cougars in 2019 after transferring from Kansas and receiving a waiver to play immediately. He's shown an immediate flash of brilliance (32 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 74.8 TS% in a win over Rice) and should have ample opportunity to regain traction as an NBA prospect this year in sharing lead guard duties with DeJon Jarreau on a talented Houston team as they contend for an AAC title. With terrific positional size at 6'5" and 205 pounds, his physical tools allow him to attack offensively both on the perimeter and inside the paint. Grimes is a high IQ player with outstanding feel for the game and, although he didn’t have the freshman season he and many others hoped for in Lawrence, there is reason to be cautiously optimistic that the 2018 McDonald’s All-American and Top-10 recruit can return to form and regain momentum for eventual NBA Draft consideration.
After missing his first season rehabbing from an ACL injury, Grant Riller burst onto the college hoops scene with a 21 point performance in his Charleston debut in November of 2016 against The Citadel. Over the past three seasons, Riller has grown into one of the best players in program history, and one of the best all-around guards in the nation. Riller and Jarrell Brantley (Utah Jazz 2019 2nd Round Pick) formed a dynamic duo that led the Cougars to the 2018 CAA conference tournament title and great team success over the past few seasons. Now in his senior year, the 6’3” combo guard is one of the most intriguing mid-major prospects in the class and will look to follow in Brantley’s footsteps in proving himself as a potentially draftable prospect.
Watching all 225 lbs of Mushidi careen down the court in transition for a promising Braunschweig organization is one of the most enthralling parts of the BBL this season and it should only get better as he continues to assimilate into the new offense with unfamiliar teammates. Mushidi has been on draft radars since 2016 and has intrigued most who watch him with an unusual combination of length, quickness, and strength at the wing position. He’s a gritty physical defender with an aptitude for anticipating actions before they happen and its easy to see how development in a couple of key offensive areas could lead to a player not stylistically dissimilar from Jaylen Brown or a secondary ball-handler with shades of Andre Iguodala. Despite great measurables and a strong approach, Mushidi’s development has plateaued a bit over the past two years and he'll need to show progression to recapture his mystique as a potentially draftable NBA prospect.
Markell Johnson is a dynamic lead guard and the engine that fuels the N.C. State offense. The Ohio-native originally stepped in as a backup guard to Dennis Smith Jr. and, over the past few years, Johnson has blossomed into one of the premier guards in the ACC. After testing the 2019 NBA Draft waters, Johnson has returned for his senior season in Raleigh and is poised to shine as one of the best playmakers in the nation. While he may not currently be found ranked particularly highly in early season draft boards, Johnson has the potential to rise throughout the season and make a push toward realizing his NBA aspirations.
In a draft class that possesses a multitude of international talents that draw a lot of public attention, Russian forward Nikita Mikhailovskii is flying a bit under the radar. A 6’7’’+ guard, Mikhailovskii brings the length of a prototypical NBA wing, combined with a versatile offensive skill set and unique handling ability at his size. This year marks the second season that the Russian talent has been a major part of the rotation of Avtodor Saratov. For the 2018-19 season, Mikhailovskii was named VTB United League Young Player of the Year. What makes this accolade even more impressive is the fact that all players 22 and under are eligible to win the award and Mikhailovskii was still just 18 years old when earned this recognition. In addition, he was a vital contributor to Russian youth national teams on multiple occasions, most recently at the 2019 FIBA U-19 World Cup in Greece. With increased playing time (Mikhailovskii has been a starter in 4/5 Avtodor games so far this season (22.7 MPG)), he will have the opportunity to prove himself against European powerhouses like Khimki Moscow, CSKA Moscow, and Zenit Saint-Petersburg on a regular basis.
Jarron Cumberland is a senior at Cincinnati who had an outstanding junior year. When he first came to Cincinnati he made the All-Freshman team of the AAC and won the 6th Man of the Year award. His junior year he was the AAC Player of the Year, All-Conference First Team, and AAC Tournament MVP. He tested the draft waters this past offseason, gaining an invite G-League Elite Camp. After getting feedback, he decided to come back to Cincinnati for his senior year. This comes with a lot of expectations to not only lead Cincinnati to another successful season, but also improve his game and prove to scouts that he's deserving of being drafted.
Cumberland, at nearly 6’5” and 210+ pounds, primarily plays the shooting guard position at Cincinnati. He is a two-way player who has a good defensive IQ and is the main scoring option for his team on the other end. He isn’t the greatest athlete, but makes up for that with his feel of the game and his size. What makes him a special college player and a legitimate pro prospect is his ability to be versatile on both ends of the floor and be a well-rounded two-way player. This will be the focus of this report: his offensive versatility and defensive versatility.
As a low usage redshirt freshman role player operating under the shadow of Carsen Edwards last season, Aaron Wheeler has flown under the radar of professional scouts thus far in his young career. Expect that to change in 2019-20. Wheeler stealthily made the most of his opportunity off the bench for the Boilermakers last season, showing flashes of upside as a shooter and a long, instinctual defender. If you dig into his advanced statistics, Wheeler shows a fairly unique combination of translatable indicators. Wheeler is the only qualifying freshman in the past ten years to post a 35+ 3P%, 2.5+ STL%, 4.0+BLK%, <15 TOV%, and 15+ DREB%. This statistical profile aligns quite well to what can be taken away from Wheeler’s film and to his projectable role both as a higher usage starter this coming season and an eventual pro.
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