Miye Oni was planning on attending Division III Williams just five years ago. Now, the former Yale swingman is looking to be the first player drafted from the Ivy League since former Penn star Jerome Allen in 1995.
The rise has been meteoric for the 6-foot-6 wing, but he’s handled it extremely well. After declaring to go pro after his junior season, an even rarer feat in Ivy circles, Oni is expected to hear his name called sometime during the second round.
Originally from Northridge, CA, Oni didn’t come onto the scene until his senior year of high school. He had a hard time getting noticed from college scouts due to injuries and a lack of varsity playing time. But despite eventually earning offers from Saint Mary’s, Alabama, and South Carolina, Oni stayed with the first Division I school to recruit him: Yale.
Oni was one of the most versatile players in the Ivy League from the moment he stepped on campus. He averaged 12.9 points per game as a freshmen. The strong play continued through his junior year. He averaged 17.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in 2018-19, was named the Ivy League’s Player of the Year, and took the Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament.
Here is how Oni stacks up against a few players that have been mocked in a similar area leading up to the draft.
Oni had the third-longest wingspan of any guard at the NBA Draft Combine at just under 6-foot-11. That length helps him defend a number of different positions on the court and means that he plays taller than his 6-foot-6 height.
The length also means that Oni can sneak into passing lanes. Creating turnovers was a huge part of his game at the collegiate level because he was deadly in transition.
Due to his strong court vision and ability to make smart passes, Oni handled a large play-making role for Yale. He was used 28 percent of the Bulldogs’ possessions while on the court this season.
Oni’s length also helps him attack the rim.
Here Miye Oni's dunk that brought the Lee Amphitheater crowd to its feet. pic.twitter.com/ZwEisDLnLT— Yale Men's Basketball (@Yale_Basketball) February 10, 2019
He showed an ability to consistently finish in traffic throughout his collegiate career.
Combined with a decent three-point shot (37 percent), Oni has the weapons to be a capable three-and-D wing at the next level.
Oni will have to convince NBA talent evaluators that he can handle players with a higher level of athleticism than what he consistently saw in the Ivy League. The evidence came in spurts during his junior season. Oni lit up Miami (FL) for 29 points in December, but then struggled in a blowout loss to Duke, shooting just 3-8 from the field. And while one game doesn’t make an entire scouting report, Oni had one of his worst games of the year against LSU in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers held Oni to just five points on 1-16 shooting from the field.
In the past, Oni had a tendency to disappear in Yale’s losses. The trend was a bit better during his Player of the Year campaign, but he still scored just five points in a loss to Penn in late March.
It is worth noting, though, that Oni had a strong game at the NBA Draft Combine. He scored a team-high 17 points, hit five three-pointers, and also added four rebounds, two blocks, two steals, and an assist.
Because he played a year of prep basketball, Oni will turn 22 in August despite coming out after his junior season, so he’s relatively old for an NBA Draft prospect.
Oni continued to move up draft boards all season and seems likely to be selected in the late second round according to most mock drafts. More than 20 pro scouts showed up to see the Ivy League semifinal against Princeton where he scored 23 points, grabbed eight boards, and dished out five assists with no turnovers in 36 minutes.
After being invited to the NBA Draft Combine and working out for teams, it appears likely that Oni will get a chance to make the back end of an NBA roster next season. Over time, he could be a versatile wing that could help stretch NBA defenses, giving him a consistent role in the league.