Summer league is a time for experimentation. For the first time ever, coaches will be able to challenge refs’ calls and we’ll also see some assistant coaches take the reins for games. In the spirit of going outside the box, it is only right that as many talented players get a chance to prove themselves as possible. Including those who often went overlooked at the college level. Here’s a list of the top mid-major players still not signed to summer league contracts and why they should be given a shot.
Chima Moneke (UC Davis): Moneke probably has the most upside of any player on this list. As a senior for the Aggies, he averaged 18.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. In fact, he was ninth in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage (29.1%). He didn’t get as much of the limelight as he could have last season due to a suspension and some legal trouble stemming from a violation of team rules. If he didn’t miss the last 10 games of the season, he could have put the Aggies into the NCAA Tournament and gotten his name out there. Not to mention he has a promising build, can shoot well, and hits 51 percent of his field goal attempts.
Jemerrio Jones (New Mexico State): There’s almost no question that Jones was the best rebounder in college basketball last year. He had 20 double-doubles last year. Twenty. He filled in as a solid playmaker for the Aggies as well, but for the NBA, he will need to improve his ball handling because he wouldn’t be classified as a big. With that said, Jones has shown an unequivocal level of tenacity in just two seasons in college basketball.
Jalen Hayes (Oakland): The new NBA star fits the mold of Ben Simmons, Kawhi Leonard, and gasp, LeBron James (THAT DOESN’T MEAN HE’S AS GOOD AS THOSE PLAYERS CALM DOWN PEOPLE). But Hayes is a solid forward-guard hybrid, and he’s improved his game tremendously at Oakland. Hayes poured in 18.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game as senior. He had trouble connecting from behind the arc but after some work in the G-League or overseas, he could be a nice pickup for any team.
Ajdin Penava (Marshall): He’s the NCAA leader in blocks per game and it’s not even close. He beat first-round draft pick Landry Shamet in the tournament and upped his game in so many regards this past year. Penava has only been in the United States for three years and in that time, he increased his production from 1.9 points per game to 15.6 points per game. He was just as critical as Jon Elmore to the Herd because he has the power to light up a game with both his post play and shooting stroke.
Nick Masterson (Kennesaw State): I had to throw in a surprise pick and naturally it had to be one of the best three-point shooters in college basketball. Masterson connected on 54 percent of his three-pointers to lead all players nationally in percentage. That’s absolutely mind-blowing and is enough to take a chance on him in summer league. Because who doesn’t love to see guys bombing threes all day?