Tuesday’s debut of NCAA Basketball generates a temporary reprieve from the Trail Blazers recent injuries and struggles. Starting tonight, the players that will comprise the 2020 NBA Draft class begin their journey to the professional ranks in full force.
Yes, it is way too early to starting projecting where the Blazers will select and who they might be interested in at that time. For now, here are three attention-worthy prospects to keep tabs on.
Jalen Smith | PF/C | 6’10” | Soph | Maryland
Smith started in all 33 games for the Terrapins as a freshman. Alongside post-dominate center and current Hawks rookie Bruno Fernando, Smith learned to navigate the offense from the high post. The 19-year-old is poised to take control of Maryland’s frontcourt in a talented Big Ten conference.
His NBA appeal is tied to upside as a multi-dimensional threat on offense. Last year, Smith proved he can beat lumbering players with his athleticism on the break and in halfcourt sets. If he hopes to secure a firm first-round grade, he has to improve his three-point accuracy (26.8 percent last season).
First Test: Dec. 7 - Maryland vs Illinois (ESPN2)
Matthew Hurt | PF | 6’8” | Fresh | Duke
Following the departures of Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish; Hurt is tasked with fulfilling a significant role for the Blue Devils. The Minnesota native is a fluid athlete and a willing passer, capable of carving up opposing defenses in multiple ways. The only thing keeping Hurt out of the top tier of prospects are concerns over how he will adapt to guarding top-level athletes.
If Hurt hits the ground running with Duke, NBA teams looking for a multi-faceted playmaker will start lining up for his services.
First Test: Tonight - Duke vs Kansas (ESPN)
Patrick Williams | SF | 6’8” | Fresh | Florida State
Armed with a pro-ready body as a freshman, Williams shouldn’t have a problem imposing his will on ACC competition. Utilizing a 6-foot-11 wingspan, the North Carolina native presents future suitors with a plethora of defensive versatility.
Offensively, Williams does an excellent job of getting downhill and finishing through contact. His size allows him to rebound at a high level for his position and his soft shooting touch will give future coaching staffs plenty to work with.
First Test: Nov. 10 - Florida State at Florida (ESPN).
What prospects are you looking forward to watching this season? Tell us in the comments below.