The Trail Blazers might not have pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, but there are plenty of prospects worth monitoring in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Outside of rooting for your bracket’s success, Blazer’s Edge contributor Steve Dewald is here to deliver a list of four prospects that could land on Portland’s radar with strong tournament performances.
Before we get to the list, here are the basics:
- Yes. We are aware the Blazers do not own a pick at this time.
- The prospects listed are currently projected to land in the mid-to-late second round. If the Blazers have a player in mind, they have shown they are willing to get back into the selection process for the right price. It is also possible that one of these prospects slips into the undrafted pool.
- Late-round picks and two-way contract players might not add to the win column right away, but they offer teams the ability to develop from within.
Alright, let’s get to the list.
Herbert Jones | F | Alabama
Herb Jones has put together four productive seasons with the Crimson Tide. As a senior, Jones’ hustle and defensive acumen earned recognition during the SEC’s year-end award process. Buoyed by his wiry frame and nose for the ball, Jones earned SEC Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Along with individual awards, Jones has proven he can guard multiple positions on defense and he has adjusted to play within his strengths on the offensive end. At the next level, his hard work and ability to leap out of the dunker’s spot could earn him an extended NBA audition. As a senior, Jones averaged 11.2 points, 1.8 steals and 1.1 blocks per game.
Alabama’s tournament schedule begins with a matchup against Iona on Saturday.
Neemias Queta | C | Utah State
Armed with a 7-foot, 245-pound frame, Neemias Queta feasted on the Mountain West Conference as a junior. Whatever limitations Queta has on the offensive end are mitigated by his size and shot-blocking instincts. His work as a rim protector earned him MWC Defensive Player of the Year honors this season. In 28 outings in 2020-21, Queta averaged 15.1 points, 10.0 rebounds and a stellar 3.2 blocks per game.
If you didn’t catch Queta play this season, here is a look at his 26-point night in a late-February matchup against Nevada.
Queta has flirted with the draft process before, but the Portuguese pivot might be ready to make the leap after run of strong performances. In the semifinals of the MWC Tournament, Queta’s was one block shy of an impressive triple double.
Utah State is set to face Texas Tech on Friday.
Matt Mitchell | SF | San Diego State
Queta isn’t the only Mountain West prospect worth monitoring in this year’s tournament. Matt Mitchell, a four-year starter for the Aztecs, is entering this weekend’s action on a hot streak. While his efficiency numbers might not blow you away (43.7 percent from the field, 36.1 percent from distance), Mitchell has an established reputation as a resourceful scorer.
During his senior year, Mitchell upped his point production to 15.4 points per game. At the point of attack, Mitchell utilizes a quick and powerful first step to get downhill. Once he hits the paint, he puts his 235-pound frame to use when finishing at the rim. Earlier this month, Mitchell earned MWC Tournament MVP honors.
San Diego State kicks off its tournament schedule against Syracuse on Friday.
Joe Wieskamp | G | Iowa
Luka Garza’s star shines bright at Iowa, but that doesn’t mean that you should overlook the floor spacing that Joe Wieskamp provides. Wieskamp, a 6-foot-6 junior, connected on 47.3 percent of his three-pointers this season (5.0 three-point attempts per game). On the perimeter, Wieskamp is a lethal catch-and-shoot operator and he isn’t afraid to launch attempts from well-beyond the college three-point line.
Wieskamp might not possess a mouth-watering ceiling at the next level, but his high release and accuracy could earn him a role as a specialist in the NBA.
Iowa faces Grand Canyon on Saturday.