clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2012 NBA Draft: 5 Mid-Major Players You Might Have Missed

Will this be Reggie Hamilton's face on draft night? The Oakland point guard makes our list of five players you might be missing if you only look at the top 100.
Will this be Reggie Hamilton's face on draft night? The Oakland point guard makes our list of five players you might be missing if you only look at the top 100.

Over the past month, Mid-Major Madness has concentrated on NBA Draft Profiles for those players in the top 100 prospects as rated by a number of experts out there.

But despite that list at times looking too long (with questionable additions from some of the mid-major ranks) there are a number of players who seem overlooked based on what they were able to accomplish in college.

We put out the call for guys that might have been missed by the experts and took a look at five of those. Some appeared on early prospect lists only to fall away without even a comment as to why they are gone. Others never even got a sniff on the list.

But all of these players have been attending workouts and attempting to impress someone before Thursday, if only so they can get a camp invite after the draft.

In no particular order, here are the players we think might deserve a little longer look.

Julian Mavunga, Miami (Ohio) - Ringing the bell at 6-8, 239 pounds is maybe the most underrated forward in the draft class. Julian Mavunga was a force at Miami since he stepped on the court, and that came with the pressure of at one time being rated the best center entering the MAC. Center would be a stretch in the NBA, and he didn't actually play that in the MAC. But what he did do was lead the conference in scoring (16.4 ppg) and rebounding (9.0 rpg) this past season. That is up against guys like Buffalo's Mitchell Watt, who did make draft list, and pick your poison among the Akron players. He was a first team All-MAC selection twice.

Mavunga was already one of our favorites before the season ended because of his statistical dominance, and he has gotten some workouts with teams. When we reached out to Matt Sussman at Hustle Belt, the SBNation MAC site, about Mavunga, he had this to say:

"He has such an explosive first step and on occasion he took the ball down the court. Great ball handler for a man his size. I'm sure there's a downside but once NBA teams see what he can do I'm sure he'll get into training camp somewhere."

If there is a downside, it is that Mavunga was a rebounder but not a shot blocker (only 17 this season). His defense of 18.4 points saved per 100 minutes puts him a tick below the best at his position, but his overall HOOPWAR of 9.80 makes him one of the most valuable players in the country. He had to do a lot because he didn't have much around him at Miami -- something that is sort of a theme with these five players.

But when you look at the tail end of the top 100, there is no reason that Mavunga isn't right there with those guys in terms of value and potential, especially with his size.

Reggie Hamilton, Oakland - Let's get it out of the way right now: Reggie Hamilton is short. He is listed at 5-11, but it is unlikely he is even that tall, as we learned when all those giants took to the tape measure at the combine. Despite his size, Hamilton only led the country in scoring, and was the first player out of the Summit conference in all its incarnations to do that.

There are no guarantees in the NBA, but being sub-6 feet tall is not usually a recipe for success. That said, it is hard to look past what Hamilton was able to accomplish. He scored 942 points this past season, averaging over 26 per game. He did it while still shooting 44.6 percent from the floor, and he somehow managed to throw in 185 assists for good measure. All that for a team that didn't have many worthwhile options past Hamilton.

He has quick hands, despite his size managed to still grab over 100 defensive rebounds.

So the downside has to be size, right? Yes, and turnovers. Hamilton, who had to handle the ball most of the time, gave it away 134 times last season, or 3.7 per game. And he had foul issues, although he only fouled out twice in 36 games.

With only one other player on his team worth as much as 2 wins, Hamilton helped Oakland to a 20-16 record and made the semifinals in the CIT. His worth of 10.60 per 30 games ranks among the top players in the country, something that is hard to dismiss even if he is small of stature. You would like to see more defensive ability out of him, but this is a player that knows how to score. Too bad that DraftExpress has him pegged as a "classic low-efficiency undersized scoring guard for Europe."


Greg Mangano, Yale - Another college center (6-10, 240) who would be forced to the power forward spot in the pros, Mangano succeeded at Yale through his prolific shot blocking. He finished third in Ivy League history in blocks and was a two-time All-Ivy selection.

He briefly flirted with the draft after his junior season, when he averaged three blocks per game, good enough for the top 10 in the country. He opted to return to school, and the blocks went down some this season, but not enough to totally discount the Yale big man. He was briefly listed on the top 100 prospects, but fell off as time went on.

This wasn't a player that just did his damage in small time Ivy games though. He had 20 and 12 against Wake Forest, and 26 and 15 against Florida during his senior season. Against Ivy leader Harvard, Mangano averaged 19.5 and 7.5. He was among the top 50 players in the country in rebounding (9.6 rpg), scoring (18.2 ppg) and blocks.

Mangano biggest issue is efficiency. Even playing close to the rim, he shot just 47.4 percent, which is not what you would want to see from a college big man, especially one that doesn't face a lot of taller competition. He had games where he disappeared on the floor, and shot terribly, and he had moments where he just wasn't as effective as you would hope for someone who put up his numbers.

Like Hamilton, Mangano had just one other true option for value on his team. Unlike Hamilton's teammate, Yale's Reggie Willhite had the ability to win games all by himself. Willhite generated a 5.03 per 30 games on the HOOPWAR scale which made a strong complement to Mangano's 8.11. With as much value as Mangano generated, you would have liked to have seen more in terms of skills come through. Still it is hard to overlook a guy that is 6-10. He should also see some time in camps.

Jesse Sanders, Liberty - If you had 10 guesses as to who was third in the country in assists, you would be hard pressed to come up with Jesse Sanders unless you were related to him. But the Liberty point guard is indeed the answer with 255 helpers last year. Not bad.

So why don't we know his name? After all, he put up an eye-popping 11.26 HOOPWAR per 30 games. Part of the answer is Liberty which won just 14 games last season, despite playing in the Big South.. And part of the answer is the rest of Liberty's team which combined for a -10 HOOPWAR per 30 games.

In other words, Jesse Sanders was the lone bright spot on a terrible team, in a bad league. You weren't going to hear his name a lot. That he was able to generate 250-plus assists with the cast of characters on the floor with him should be worth something (other than a massive HOOPWAR score).

The thing is Sanders looks a lot like one of those statistical darlings. He did all the right things. He made all the right numbers look great. He compares favorably in most respects with the top players at his position. But that is where the love affair ends.

When he steps on the floor to perform the combine drills, which may or may not translate into actual NBA talent (after all, Kevin Durant couldn't bench press the empty bar five years ago. How's that working out for him?), he falls behind. He is fractions slower than the best point guards out there. In the NBA, that fraction will be magnified, and Sanders could be left behind.

That doesn't negate the impressive seasons that Sanders generated for the Flames. It just put him down the list of players that should get that extra look after the draft. At worst, stat heads will still love him, and wonder the big what ifs.

William Mosley, Northwestern State - We saved the most interesting case for last. Northwestern State's William Mosley is one of those players that has a skill and just dominates at it. We have seen players like this: guys who are awesome at one thing, and can make a career from that one thing. Usually it is on the offensive side of the ball, most namely 3-point shooting, but that doesn't mean there haven't been rebounding specialists in the league, or guys who were just shut down defenders.

Mosley is a shot blocker, as in 126 blocks during his senior season. Let me repeat: 126 blocks last year. Kentucky's Anthony Davis had more than 180, but 126 is still rare air.

He can also rebound, finishing just below Mangano with 9.5 per game. But the blocking talent is something that a lot of players never get. This is a skill that is almost impossible to teach. You can either do it, or you can't. There is no in-between talent here.

So Mosley should get looks for this alone. The problems come when you start looking at other numbers. Mosley wasn't the dominant scorer on his team (although his offensive numbers compare favorably with his teammates), and he was not a great free throw shooter (45.9 percent). He was just average in about every other aspect of his game.

At 6-7, 220, he is also going to be pushed further away from the basket in the NBA, which could take away from his main skills on the court.

But there is no denying that Mosley prevented 27.7 points per 100 minutes, putting him among the top frontcourt players. And his HOOPWAR score of 8.50 per 30 games is among the tops for his position, even if you consider he played against the Southland conference.

That blocking talent is something to covet, and perhaps he can be the one-trick pony in the NBA.

So those are our five players that we have chosen to highlight outside the top 100. Who would be your mid-major sleepers on draft night, or in NBA camps this fall?