It’s a banner year for mid-major NBA Draft prospects.
Murray State’s Ja Morant and Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura are expected to be lottery picks. Nine players from mid-major conferences were invited to the NBA Draft combine.
Three big men — Charles Bassey (Western Kentucky), Brandon Clarke (Gonzaga) and Jalen McDaniels (San Diego State) — could go in the first round, while Belmont swingman Dylan Windler and Yale guard Miye Oni are projected as second-round picks, according to NBADraft.net.
We’ve already broken down the guys likely to be drafted. Now, here are a few who may have gotten lost in the shuffle. You’ll probably be scrolling for a while if you look for these mid-major dark horses on various NBA draft big boards. Nevertheless, don’t be shocked to see them go in the second round:
Chris Clemons, point guard, Campbell
Clemons took home the MVP award at the Portsmouth Invitational after leading all participants with 18.3 points per game. Those numbers weren’t far off from his outstanding showing at Campbell, where he averaged 24.8 points per game and shot 36 percent from three over his four seasons.
Clemons is just 5-foot-9, so he’d rank among the league’s shortest players if he made a roster. But his size hasn’t stopped him yet, and teams are well acquainted with him because he tested NBA waters each of the last two years. Don’t be surprised when someone gives college basketball’s leading scorer a chance. That could be the Boston Celtics, who may lose Kyrie Irving or Terry Rozier to free agency. Clemons worked out with Boston May 1, and the Celtics have a second-round pick at No. 51 overall.
Mike Daum, power forward, South Dakota State
The questions surrounding Daum’s athleticism are a big reason why he’s not considered a sure-fire NBA guy. He also didn’t regularly play against top competition in the Summit League, though he did drop 27 points against Ohio State in the 2018 NCAA tournament and 25 against Texas in this year’s NIT.
Over 137 college games, he averaged 22.4 points and shot 41 percent from long range. The potential for Daum to be a stretch forward should be enough for him to get a look this summer. But it’s understandable why teams would hope to pick him up as a free agent instead of risking a second-round pick. The Denver Nuggets don’t have any draft picks, but they lose backup forward Tyler Lydon and could be in the market for frontcourt depth, especially if Paul Millsap leaves this summer.
John Konchar, shooting guard, Purdue Fort Wayne
Konchar’s draft stock took a hit in Portsmouth. His unselfish nature wasn’t exactly suited for a tournament where everyone was trying to stand out, and he scored just 11 combined points in two games.
However, Konchar is effective around the basket and known as a playmaker. He shot 41.6 percent from three for his career and dished out 553 total assists at Fort Wayne. He told the IndyStar that at least 17 NBA teams had inquired about him as of early February.
At age 23, he’s far from the youngest draft prospect, and he certainly isn’t the most athletic. But his craftiness and consistent college numbers should afford him an NBA opportunity. A team like the Los Angeles Clippers, who already hosted Konchar for a workout, could benefit from his versatility.
Garrison Mathews, shooting guard, Lipscomb
Mathews received few Division I offers out of high school, partially because he split time between football and basketball. When he moved to the hardwood full-time, he shattered scoring records at Lipscomb and raised his three-point percentage from 35 percent as a freshman to 40 percent as a senior.
He’s already worked out for the Atlanta Hawks after a solid showing in Portsmouth, where he tested “better than expected athletically,” according to Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. Look for Mathews to make an NBA appearance at some point even if he has to take an indirect route to the league. That may mean taking a two-way deal with a team like the Hawks, who already have Kevin Huerter, Kent Bazemore and DeAndre’ Bembry under contract for 2019-20.
Justin Wright-Foreman, point guard, Hofstra
The Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers are among the teams that have expressed interest after he averaged 27.1 points per game as a senior in the Colonial Athletic Association.
He’s viewed as a point guard, but Philadelphia Senior Director of Scouting Vince Rozman told Philly.com that Wright-Foreman makes enough shots “that he could play off the ball.” The 76ers have four second-round picks, and backup point guard T.J. McConnell appears to be bound for free agency, making Philadelphia a possible landing spot for Wright-Foreman.