Early-Entry List Evaluation, Rumor Mill (Hendrix, Shawn James)

Early-Entry List Evaluation, Rumor Mill (Hendrix, Shawn James)
Mar 27, 2008, 01:58 am
Early-Entry Rumor Mill—Centers Dominate

-Kosta Koufos is an interesting name to keep an eye on. Most NBA execs assumed he would surely be back in Columbus next season after the underwhelming freshman season he’s had, but there has been a great deal of chatter coming out of Greece these past few weeks that Koufos and his mother are not so quietly exploring their overseas options. Koufos turned down significant money from both of the top teams in Greece to play for Ohio State, but his (and his mother’s) relationship with Thad Matta apparently isn’t the best. If he decides to leave Ohio State, he could enter the draft this year (where he’s likely a mid to late first round pick), or play in Greece for a season and try again next season. But then again, it could just be a lot of posturing that in the end sees him go back to school.

-Javale McGee is another big man who is gathering information and weighing his options regarding the NBA draft. McGee clearly could use another season in college, but NBA execs we spoke with were intrigued enough about his upside to comfortably project him as a first round pick, if not top-20.

- Sophomore Marreese Speights has been quietly discussed as a likely early-entry candidate for a few months now, but it’s not quite clear which direction he’s leaning towards at the moment. Never considered a bookworm out of high school, academics could play a factor in Speights’ decision. Scouts we spoke with love his upside and terrific scoring ability, but resoundingly agree that he needs another season in college to help improve his defensive awareness and overall mental focus. Should he decide to enter, he’s very likely a first round pick, and possibly even top-20 depending on red flags and the rest of the early-entry list.

-Don’t be too quick to pencil in DeAndre Jordan onto your 2008 mock drafts just yet…he will be meeting with the coaching staff soon to hear about their plans for him next year, and could very well decide to return for his sophomore season. Nothing has been decided quite yet, but it may be premature to assume that he’s 100% gone…

-Depending on how things go this weekend, Robin Lopez is yet another project center who could decide to enter his name in the draft pool, following in the footsteps of his twin brother Brook, who he is obviously very close with. NBA people we spoke with are somewhat split on him, but he clearly has his fans around the league, especially with the way he’s played lately.

-How many centers would that leave us with vying for the first round, if all the players above indeed decide to enter? Count them yourself:

Brook Lopez
DeAndre Jordan
Roy Hibbert
Hasheem Thabeet
Marreese Speights
Kosta Koufos
JaVale McGee
Robin Lopez
DeVon Hardin
Jason Thompson
Nikola Pekovic
Nathan Jawai
Omer Asik
John Riek
Semih Erden

-This might go down as the largest class of project big men we’ve seen in quite some time. The problem is, once you get past Brook Lopez, there is really very little consensus on how to rank them. As one person we spoke to this week put it…you might talk to 15 different NBA teams and get 15 different rankings.

-According to the research we’ve done, on average there are only 6.6 centers drafted in the first round every year. The most in the last 10 years was 2001, with eight. So at the end of the day, someone on that list is probably going to get their feelings hurt.

Early-Entry List Breakdown:

Richard Hendrix


Size: 6-9 (possibly 6-8)
Weight: 255
Age: 21 years old
Class: Junior
Team: Alabama (17-16)
NBA Position: Power Forward

Stats: 17.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 1.6 assist, 1.7 turnovers, 60% FG, 54% FT, 31 minutes

In Short: Strong, tough, fundamentally sound big man with a nose for the ball. Willing to do the dirty work inside. An outstanding rebounder with fantastic hands. Not a highly skilled or versatile offensive player, but can score with his back to the basket a bit, is extremely efficient, and sticks to what he does best. Great intangibles—high basketball IQ, excellent passer, the son of teachers, and will graduate in 3 years from college. Not an exceptional athlete, might be an inch undersized. Lateral quickness is average for the power forward position. A low-risk prospect that projects as an energy guy/role player and doesn’t have incredible upside, but looks like a super-solid 10-year pro.

Chances of returning to school: 25%. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot left for him to prove. He is what he is pretty much, and he isn’t getting any taller or more athletic anytime soon. Hendrix was really shortchanged by Ron Steele’s unfortunate and continuous injury problems, as Alabama had very little to offer at the guard spots. Even though Steele is coming back, there is no guarantee that he will be healthy or anywhere near the player he was two years ago. The fact that Hendrix shot 60% from the field is more of an indictment on his teammates’ ability to get him the basketball than anything, but the fact that he still managed to average 18 points per game in the SEC is clearly a feather in his cap.

Hendrix looks like the classic player that gets overlooked in favor of potential-laden underclassmen on draft day, but ends up being better than at least half the players drafted in the first round—ala Paul Millsap. He looked like a lock for the first round until 6-7 underclassmen big men surprisingly began contemplating entering the draft, which made things a bit murky for most of the players projected to be drafted in the lower-half of the first round. For that reason, he should proceed with caution.

Early Projection: 15-35

Source: Hendrix To Learn All He Can About NBA Draft

Shawn James


Size: 6-10 (possibly 6-9)
Weight: 225
Age: 24 years old
Class: Junior
Team: Duquesne (17-13)
NBA Position: Power Forward

Stats: 12.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.0 blocks, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 55% FG, 33% 3P, 75% FT, 24 minutes

In Short: Long and lanky shot-blocker with a very thin frame and raw offensive ability. Struggles to hold his position on the block, and his fairly mechanical. A good, but not great athlete, who possesses an incredible 7-5 wingspan. Has 3-point range on his shot, but is extremely streaky. Ranks as the second best shot-blocker in the NCAA per-40 minutes. Lack of lateral quickness limits his pro potential considerably, as he is already very unpolished offensively. At age 24, there isn’t a great deal of hope that his body or game will develop substantially in coming years.

Chances of returning to school: ?. Hard to say, since he’s not an NBA player now, and probably won’t be one next year either, but he still has a year of eligibility remaining. James signed up to play for Ron Everhart at Northeastern, and transferred with him to Duquesne in 2005-2006, which forced him to sit out a season. He was one of the (luckier) victims of the Duquesne shooting in September of 2006, taking a bullet in the foot. What is odd is that his minutes actually fell from his sophomore season at Northwestern, which makes you wonder why he even bothered transferring. Already extremely advanced age-wise, he’ll be a 25 year old senior when next year’s NCAA season starts. He might be tempted to go overseas, since his Guyanese passport qualifies him for Cotonou status in countries like France, where his shot-blocking skills would make him real commodity.

Early Projection: Late 2nd round to undrafted

Source: Inside Hoops: James to declare for NBA Draft

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