Rakim Sanders took the long route to this NBA draft. Transferring from Boston College after his junior season, he sat out the 2010-11 year before busting onto the scene at Fairfield.
Then again, you would expect a player built to compete in the ACC to dominate once they arrived in the Northeast.
We look at the numbers and scouting reports to figure out which years will weigh more heavily in his basketball future.
School: Fairfield (Fairfield, Conn.| MAAC)
Hometown: Pawtucket, R.I.
Accolades: 1st team All-MAAC
Team Record: 22-15 (3 years at Boston College)
Sanders has the opposite problem that we have seen with a lot of the mid-major guys.
He has the strength; he has the body. But does he have the talent. He was a solid player while at Boston College, but if Sanders had graduated as an Eagle, would we be talking about him now?
Chances are he would have been relegated to the back end of any draft list, just because of the competition that he faced. It doesn't mean that he wouldn't have received camp invites, and workout chances. He just doesn't seem the type of player that ends up on Top 100 lists.
But put him in Fairfield for a season, have him earn an all-conference honor, and look what happens.
This is not knocking Sanders. He has the strength that a lot of players on this list are lacking. He has insane rebounding skills. But three years of middle of the road in the ACC usually doesn't land you in the NBA.
Final Season Averages:
16.6 pts... 2.5 asts...8.2 rebs...1.4 steals...3.3 turnovers..32.3 mins...50.0% FG...31.2% 3 PT...63.5% FT
As we said, Sanders can rebound. Consider that he is not much taller than most guards and he is pulling in enough boards to rank in the top 100 in the country. That is a definite nose for the ball.
The scoring ability is there too. Sanders was able to score in the ACC, and he just upped the production once making the move to the MAAC. Instead of having stretches where the scoring would disappear, he was able to consistently find the basket during his final year.
Given his likely role in the NBA, the lack of range on his shot is a concern. He won't survive as a small forward that can only shoot inside in the league. There is just no place for that type of player.
Sanders compiled a 6.05 on the HOOPWAR scale over 30 games, a solid performance. You would hope for more given the load he was responsible for on the scoring side, but he was a little short. On the defensive side, Sanders saved 13.7 points per 100 minutes, mostly based on his rebounding prowess.
BEYOND THE NUMBERS
Sanders has the strength to bang on the inside in the NBA. That is high-major strength on a player coming out of a mid-major school (thanks to a little help). That is a package that you aren't going to get too often, as we have seen with our other draft profiles.
The former Stag can be a rebounding force, and strong inside.
Sanders lacks the shooting range you would like to see from even a bench small forward in the NBA. You aren't going to see a lot of teams that will go all small and have a 6-5 player on the floor to do most of his work inside. Most of those guys are going to be playing guard.
Whomever runs DraftExpress' Twitter account had one other observation of Sanders during the opening part of his senior year at Fairfield.
Severely undersized, under-conditioned PF who thinks he's a little more skilled than he actually is?
That is not a stigma you want on your resume headed into the draft, even if you manage to outgrow it during your final season.
Current Prospect Rankings
Chad Ford (ESPN): No. 73 (No. 20 at position)
DraftExpress: No. 85
Sanders turned himself into a decent player during his final season at Fairfield, but that is after an somewhat average performance over three years at Boston College.
I can't see the final campaign outweighing what Sanders was able to do over his first three seasons. That is too much time against the best of the best -- the type of players he will be facing in the NBA -- without becoming a real standout. He had moments of brilliance but nothing that an NBA team will hang its hat on.
Plus the player profile just doesn't fit together. There is not enough shooting range, and not enough size here. The strength and rebounding are pluses, but that doesn't seem enough to get Sanders a toe into the league.