As covered last week, I was recently able to spend some time talking to an NBA scout, and while the conversation was dominated by the pro potential of Anthony Bennett, the scout also had some interesting thoughts about some other UNLV players, and the Mountain West in general.
Some of the more noteworthy topics we covered:
The Mountain West is on the rise
The MWC might not pump out lottery picks on the reg, but the league’s talent level is respectable and gradually rising. “I think over the last couple years, the talent has gotten better,” said the scout. “It’s a very competitive conference, and the talent seems to be trending upwards. It seems like every year there are two or three guys coming into the league from the Mountain West.”
Anthony Bennett and Jamaal Franklin are top prospects
Bennett is the Mountain West’s top NBA prospect, but San Diego State guard Jamaal Franklin is also pushing to be a first-round draft pick. The scout pointed to Franklin’s size and defensive potential as big positives. “He could end up being a Bruce Bowen or Danny Green type,” he said.
Kirk, Shepard and Birch form second tier
After Bennett and Franklin, there’s a clear second tier of prospects who could possibly crash the first round of the draft under the right circumstances: UNLV sophomore Khem Birch, New Mexico sophomore Alex Kirk and San Diego State freshman Winston Shepard. “They maybe aren’t slam-dunk lottery picks,” said the scout, “but it’s definitely a group that warrants a lot of inspection.” The scout noted Kirk’s size and touch around the basket, Shepard’s versatility and Birch’s defensive prowess.
Bryce Dejean-Jones is getting looks
After Bennett and Birch, the Rebels’ next-best pro prospect may be sophomore swingman Bryce Dejean-Jones. He’s currently averaging 9.4 points per game and shooting just 38.9 percent, with more turnovers than assists, but his athleticism is intriguing. The scout said he’s drawing attention from the NBA community along with MWC players like Nevada’s Deondre Burton, Wyoming’s Leonard Washington and New Mexico’s Tony Snell and Kendall Williams.
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