Hardwood Blues Preseason All-Americans

Previously I have used this post as an opportunity to shed light on unheralded NCAA players with eye-popping stats. Now that I have a handy draft metric to grade each player, I can use a more objective criteria: the top-rated player at each position by DMX that isn’t listed on a 2018 or 2019 mock draft (via ESPN/DraftExpress and NBADraft.net). So without further ado, here are my NCAA sleepers to watch:

GUARDS


Markus Howard / G / Marquette
HT: 5’11”
Projected Draft Class: 2020
DMX: 4.5

As a tiny, one-way player, Howard’s absence from mock drafts is understandable. The reason DMX can’t fade him is because he was an historically good perimeter scorer while being among the youngest players in NCAA. At the tender age of 17, Howard posted 23.7 PTS/40 pace adjusted on a blistering .686 True Shooting %. If you combine his freshman stats with those from the U16 and U17 FIBA tournaments, the diminutive sniper is 114-216 from 3PT (52.7%) and 62-70 from the line (88.5%). Howard is an offensive dynamo, but will it translate enough to the pros to compensate for his weaknesses as a defender and ball-handler? I would have to lean towards no.

John Konchar / SG/SF / IPFW
HT: 6’5″
Projected Draft Class: 2019
DMX: 4.2

My favorite part of draft modeling is that it forces you to consider guys as prospects who would be easily overlooked by conventional scouting methods. A shining example of this is redshirt junior John Konchar, a muscle-bound white guy from the Summit League whose statistical profile is dripping with goodness.

konchar-john

The positionally ambiguous Konchar combines the rebounding of a PF (9.6 REB/40) and the passing of a guard (3.5 AST/40). The only other guy I can find since ’06 with > 9 REB/40 and > 2 AST/TOV is projected #1 pick Luka Doncic, who looks to be literally one of the best prospects ever. In addition to a rare intersection of rebounding and passing, Konchar carries a 2.9% steals rate and an absurd .687 TS%. Basically, Konchar stuffs the stat sheet while hardly ever turning the ball over or missing a shot. Works for me!

FORWARDS


Kevin Huerter / SF / Maryland
HT: 6’7″
Projected Draft Class: 2019
DMX: 4.0

Huerter is my Josh Hart Memorial prospect hiding in plain sight. He was a highly-touted recruit who turned in a nice freshman year for the Terps, and his size and all-around skills ought to give him some NBA appeal.

Mike Daum / PF / South Dakota State
HT: 6’9″
Projected Draft Class: 2019
DMX: 4.2

With the importance of floor-spacing at an all-time high, mid-major hero Mike Daum stands a real chance to be drafted as a stretch four. Daum is the only prospect since god-mode 2008 Michael Beasley to average over 30 PTS/40 pace adjusted, and he has done so on .528/.425/.852 shooting splits worthy of several flame emojis. Daum is slow-footed and a liability on defense, but unlike Markus Howard, he could potentially offer an NBA team significant offensive value.

CENTER


Nick Ward / C / Michigan State
HT: 6’8″
Projected Draft Class: 2019
DMX: 5.8

Nick Ward is the exact type of guy DMX doesn’t know how to handle; a barrel-chested brute who makes up for paltry assist and steal rates with a cartoonish PER. This is how John and Zach Collins ended up rating slightly higher than superior prospects like Dennis Smith Jr. and Josh Jackson. DMX overrates Ward, but I am more than open to the possibility that he is #actually really good. As a freshman he put up 28.7 (!!) PTS/40, fourth among NCAA prospects since 2006 after Beasley, Daum, Steph Curry, and Rodney Stuckey. Even in limited minutes with a diet of easy shots, you can’t post a mark like that on 59% shooting without having great hands, footwork, and a soft touch like Ward. Though undersized, Ward leverages his 7’2″ wingspan to be a beast at the rim, swatting 3.2 shots per 40 minutes. If nothing else, he is sure to be a dominating presence in the Big Ten for the next few years.

 

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