You won’t find Markelle Fultz or Jayson Tatum playing in the MVC or CAA, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t pro prospects in the mid-major ranks. As the season creeps closer, here are several players to keep an eye on as they try to factor into next June’s NBA draft.
Cameron Oliver, Nevada, Soph., F, 6’8
- Ranking: DraftExpress #47, Nbadraft.net #33
- The Skinny: The two-way star flirted with the NBA draft after a breakout freshman season but ultimately returned to Reno. He led the MWC in blocks (2.6 bpg) and block percentage (9.0%) while averaging the second most rebounds per game (9.1 rpg). Improving his outside shot should make his stock skyrocket.
- Big Test: The defensive maestro faces St. Mary’s efficient offense on opening night in Moraga (Nov. 11, Nevada @ St. Mary’s).
Alec Peters, Valparaiso, Sr., F, 6’9
- Ranking: DraftExpress #49, Nbadraft.net #47
- The Skinny: Peters decision to not transfer after Bryce Drew’s departure keeps the Crusaders among the Horizon League elite. He’s a sharpshooting big (44.0% on 209 three point attempts) that still contributes down low (19.5% defensive rebounding rate). Plenty of NBA teams will be interested in that high demand skill set.
- Big Test: Facing Oregon’s athletes (Nov. 17, Valpo @ Oregon) is merely a tuneup for the NBA talent Peters will play against at Rupp Arena (Dec. 7, Valpo @ Kentucky).
Malik Pope, San Diego St., Jr., F, 6’10
- DraftExpress #86, Nbadraft.net #20
- The Skinny: Pope is a massively talented big man that has not entirely cashed in on his potential in two years at SDSU. The divergence in rankings underscores the split opinion on him. A player with his size that can shoot and handle the ball should find a spot in the league; a breakout season could make that easier as a first round pick.
- Big Test: Gonzaga’s frontcourt offers challenges, but Pope may not see a more talented big man opposite him - save for Oliver in MWC play - than Cal’s Ivan Rabb (Nov. 21, Cal v. SDSU).
Others to watch:
- Justin Tuoyo, Chattanooga, Jr., F, 6’10
- E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island, Jr., G, 6’5
- Hassan Martin, Rhode Island, Sr., F, 6’7
- Charles Cooke, Dayton, Sr., G, 6’5
- Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure, Jr., G, 6’2
- Elijah Brown, New Mexico, Soph., G, 6’4
- Marcus Marshall, Nevada, Sr., G, 6’3
- Zach Collins, Gonzaga, Fr., F, 7’0
- Jordan Matthews, Gonzaga, Sr., G, 6’4
- Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga, Jr., G, 6’4
- Omar Prewitt, William & Mary, Sr., F, 6’6
- William Lee, UAB, Jr., F, 6’9
- Chris Cokley, UAB, Jr., F, 6’8
- B.J. Tyson, East Carolina, Jr., G, 6’3
- Kevin Hervey, UT-Arlington, Jr., F, 6’7
- Luke Nelson, UC Irvine, Sr., G, 6’3
- Derrick Griffin, Texas Southern, Soph., F, 6’7