When it comes to NBA prospects, Jacob Wiley might have one of the most unique paths ever. He’s really only played one meaningful season of Division I college basketball, and has had to endure much more off the court.
This profile by Matt Norlander of CBS Sports is an incredible read detailing the journey that Wiley has taken on his hopeful path to the NBA. Give it a look because it’s well worth your time.
As far his chances of getting drafted, Wiley has been pegged as a possible sleeper late in the second round. His potential as an energy big off the bench has caused NBA teams to give the Big Sky Player of the Year serious consideration.
The thing that sticks out most about Wiley, and what will ultimately be his calling card, is the energy he brings every game. As an undersized but athletic forward, Wiley does his damage by playing harder than everybody else. In his only year at Eastern Washington, he was able to grab 9.1 rebounds and block nearly three shots per game thanks to his energy level.
Wiley also showed signs of a nice shooting touch, which will be important for him if he hopes to be effective against bigger and more athletic front court players. He shot 51.9 percent on two-point jumpers, and hit nearly 83 percent of his free throw attempts. The signs of being an effective shooter are there, and Wiley will probably have to focus more on his mid-range game in the pros.
Lastly, Wiley’s athleticism helps cover for his lack of size for a traditional big man. He’s an explosive finisher and rebounder, and should be a versatile enough defender to at least guard a couple of positions at the next level.
Size is always going to be the biggest knock against Wiley. At 6’7 and only 215 pounds, Wiley is undersized for a front court player, especially one who does so much of his damage close to the hoop. The list of undersized bigs that have been effective without much of a perimeter game is a short one.
Wiley also struggles with decision-making at times, and is particularly turnover prone. He averaged 3.8 turnovers per game last year, which was one of the highest marks in the country. A number like that usually comes from ball-dominant guards, not forwards.
As promising as his shooting touch may seem, he still lacks the range to stretch out the perimeter. Although Wiley hit five of his seven three-point attempts, that’s not enough of a sample size to say that he can stretch the floor, especially at the NBA level.
Everybody should be rooting for Wiley to hear his name called on Thursday. He could sneak into the end of the second round, but the most likely scenario is that he makes a Summer League roster, where he will have a real shot at latching on somewhere.