The late rising, high ceiling player at the back of the NBA draft isn’t usually a college senior. And he definitely isn’t typically a player that has torn the ACL in both knees over the course of his career.
Yet that’s who Kevin Hervey is, and the UT Arlington star is nonetheless turning heads as June 21 approaches. The 6’8’’ forward had a banner career as a Maverick, averaging 15.5 points and 8.0 rebounds over his four seasons in Arlington. The former Sun Belt Player of the Year and AP Honorable Mention All-American has been on the NBA radar since a breakout 2015-16 season, but his performance at the NBA combine may have his name shining brighter on draft boards.
The Ringer called him the “most intriguing player” of the event.
At 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, the UT Arlington forward hit spot-up 3s, defended multiple positions, and hit a tough contested jumper off the dribble, which is something he did a lot of in college. Health is a concern—he’s torn both of his ACLs already—but his potential is tantalizing in the late first or early second round, areas where risks can be taken. With Hervey, a team may hit a home run.
Meanwhile, a league scout told the Dallas News that it’s clear Hervey helped himself with his performance.
One Southwest Division scout said it’s league-wide consensus that Hervey improved his draft stock, but by how much is still up in the air. Some think Hervey may have moved himself into the first round while others think he moved further up in the second.
”I don’t think anyone knows anymore,” he said. “Kevin is a unique situation. A lot of it will depend on the medical.”
Here’s what the fast-rising Hervey can bring to the NBA.
Timing may turn out to be everything for Hervey. He’s a long, versatile big man that has shown glimpses of being an outside threat (34.1 3P% over the past two years), making him a commodity in the modern NBA. He played the bulk of his collegiate minutes at the four alongside more traditional centers (like Jorge Bilbao and Johnny Hamilton), but also played the five in smaller lineups at times. Depending on how a team sees him, Hervey could fit the “three-and-D” or stretch four profile.
The former Maverick is also a tremendous rebounder, averaging 8.9 rebounds per game over his final three seasons. While he regressed some last season, he was one of the nation’s best on the defensive glass his junior year with the 13th best defensive rebounding rate in the country (27.8%). Along with his size and versatility, the ability to pitch in on the glass could make Hervey a valuable rotation player. He also showed the ability to run the offense through the high post, though he wasn’t asked to do this much playing with one of the country’s best playmakers in point guard Erick Neal.
Hervey will need to convince teams that he can become a more consistent three-point shooter to truly capitalize on his size. He owns a 32.4 percent career three-point shooting percentage, and shot just 30.6 percent on 6.9 attempts per game in Sun Belt play last season. Whether teams see him as a wing or a stretch four, he’ll likely struggle to find playing time without the long range shot in his arsenal.
As mentioned above, however, health will be the big consideration with Hervey. He tore his right ACL in high school, and then tore his left ACL midway through his sophomore season. That said, the injuries didn’t seem to affect him. Hervey’s advanced metrics didn’t drop over his final two seasons, and he averaged 30.0 minutes per game over that stretch.
At this point, it’s hard to see Hervey falling out of this draft. There will be concerns about the level of competition he faced in college and the wear-and-tear on his knees, but his wing span and positional versatility should appeal to no shortage of organizations. While a first round rise seems unlikely, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Hervery off the board in the middle of the second round.