Everyone enjoy the NBA Draft last night? Zion Williamson went first, in case you didn’t know. More importantly, Ja Morant went second. Overall, it was a great night for Memphis and Utah especially as they stocked up on mid-major favorites — the only guys who truly matter.
Announcements and contracts from players who went undrafted have already started to trickle out and will do so throughout the day and weekend, but we’re already looking toward 2020.
Here are some of the mid-major players who are popping up on 2020 boards:
Derrick Alston, Boise State
Projected: No. 45 (ESPN)
Alston made history with the Broncos last season, making the single biggest point-per-game jump from any player in the history of the program. The wing played in just 11 games as a redshirt freshman, posting 0.6 per contest. As a sophomore, he averaged 13.4 and played almost 28 minutes a game. His efforts earned him Mountain West honorable mention and a spot on ESPN’s draft board if he decides to leave early.
Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky
Bassey could have been a first-round selection if he kept his name in the draft this year, so Western Kentucky fans are getting a treat in another year from their double-double machine center. He shot 62.7 percent from the field, averaged double-figure rebounds, and ranked second in Conference USA in blocks per game (2.4). Bassey has the size and length to succeed in the NBA, and another year under Rick Stansbury to hone his basketball IQ should help.
Neemias Queta, Utah State
Projected: No. 26 (NBA Draft Room), No. 53 (ESPN)
Queta seems to be in a good spot headed into 2019-20. He was one of 66 players invited to the NBA Draft combine this year, showing NBA teams already had their eyes on him, but it appeared that he could use another year of seasoning. Here’s what the freshman has done already: He led the Mountain West in block rate and ranked fourth in defensive rebounding percentage. He also scored in double figures in 10 of Utah State’s final 11 games. The USU Statesman summed up his combine weaknesses the best:
Basically, while Queta has borderline elite length, even by NBA standards, he is saddled with the worst of both worlds in terms of the trade-off between size and speed. Bigger players aren’t as quick but can bully smaller opponents. Smaller opponents have the speed to outmaneuver bigger foes. Queta is too small to bang with the heavier bigs and too slow to keep up with the smaller ones.
Grant Riller, Charleston
Projected: No. 57 (ESPN)
OK, it’s time to come clean: We did not expect Jarrell Brantley to be selected Thursday night. But he was. And Riller could be the second Cougar in as many years to be picked. As a junior, he was a scoring machine, surpassing 30-points six times during the season. He was a little streaky from three, but still averaged 21.9 points per game and 4.1 assists. The first-team all-CAA member is closing in on 2,000 career points and holds the Charleston single-game scoring record with 43 points.
Obi Toppin, Dayton
Projected No. 38 (ESPN)
Our whole staff breathed a sigh of relief when Toppin announced he’d return in 2019-20. Not only because of his awesome name, but because now Dayton should be really good in a resurgent year for the Atlantic 10. Toppin burst onto the scene this year by scoring 18, then 19 points in his first two collegiate games. Over the course of the season, he converted on over two thirds of his two-point attempts, leading to a spot on the all-A-10 First Team and conference Rookie of the Year honors. The high-flying Flyer also set the school record for blocks in a season with 83.
Now here’s some Obi Toppin dunk porn: