More DX Conference Previews
-The Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big East
-The Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Pac-12
-The Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 12
Top NBA Draft Prospects in the SEC
(#1) De'Aaron Fox (Scouting Video)]
(#2) Bam Adebayo (Scouting Video)
(#3) Malik Monk (Scouting Video)
(#4) Luke Kornet
(#5) Sacha Killeya-Jones
(#6) D.J. Hogg
(#7) Devin Robinson
#8, Antonio Blakeney, 6'4, Shooting Guard, LSU, Sophomore
After recruiting Ben Simmons and his AAU teammate and fellow McDonald's All-American Antonio Blakeney, LSU was hoping for a banner 2015-2016 campaign. Instead, the team faltered, never quite finding its rhythm despite the infusion of elite young talent, and finished a disappointing 19-14, missing the postseason entirely.
While Ben Simmons occupied most of the spotlight in Baton Rouge from day one, Antonio Blakeney overcame an inconsistent start actually losing his starting role briefly in January to earn a spot on the 2016 Southeastern Conference All-Freshman team. He then tested the NBA Draft waters, but ultimately withdrew his name and returned to school. Now, as LSU's top returning perimeter threat, Blakeney has the chance to do what Ben Simmons could not: lead LSU back to the post-season, while solidifying his draft prospects in the process.
At 6'4 with a 190-pound frame and a 6'7.5 wingspan, Blakeney is undersized for an NBA shooting guard, without standout length to compensate. It does not appear that he has added much muscle to his wiry frame since his senior year in high school, when he was measured at 189 pounds. He is an elite athlete, however, with a huge vertical leap, as well as excellent quickness and agility to complement his explosiveness.
Blakeney's first year of college basketball was defined by inconsistency, which plagued the entire LSU team. After a decent start to his freshman season, Blakeney hit a wall in December and January, before rallying to average 17.4 points per game over his last 10 games.
The overwhelming share of Blakeney's field goal attempts came off jump shots, and despite showing impressive shot-making prowess, he struggled to do so in an efficient manner, due to his often poor shot-selection, converting 33.5% of his overall 3-pointers.
On film, his mechanics are inconsistent, varying by his shot's degree of difficulty and the amount of pressure he faces. He gets a lot of elevation on his jump shot, but tends to shoot just after the peak of his leap, often leading to off-balance attempts, and demonstrating a slight hitch when he shoots off of the dribble. These issues and his questionable shot selection explain a lot of his streakiness as a shooter, and scouts will be watching to see if he has improved his mechanics and decision making as a sophomore because he has the potential to be a very good shooter at the collegiate level.
Blakeney almost never creates any offense for teammates, as his 5.5% assist percentage ranked as the second lowest rate in the country among shooting guard prospects. He does show potential in terms of creating his own offense, though, in both pick-and-roll sets and in isolation. Here, he can take a couple of dribbles and pull up or use his quickness and agility to get to the rim. Blakeney is an inconsistent shooter inside of the arc (34% FG), as well, but he also takes a lot of low percentage, high difficulty shots and does not yet have the ball-handling skills to consistently create space for himself.
Blakeney is a good finisher around the basket (57.5% FG), capable of explosive, acrobatic finishes with space and in transition. His average ball-handling skills make it difficult for him to exploit his athleticism without a clear path to the basket, however, and he lacks the strength to absorb contact and finish in traffic, which is also reflected by his pedestrian 4.4 free throw attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted.
LSU was a poor defensive team in 2015-2016, and Blakeney's defense was no exception. While he has some intriguing physical tools, neither his fundamentals nor his court awareness are of a similar caliber. He hesitates to close out on shooters, often drifts out of position, and is far too lackadaisical letting opponents drive by him considering the quickness that he frequently demonstrates on offense. His effort level, in general, is inconsistent, despite stretches where he dials in, uses his lateral quickness to his advantage, and can be a good man defender. With an eye towards the NBA, however, his physical profile may make his transition difficult. Even on the collegiate level, he struggles to fight through screens guarding the pick-and-roll and his average length probably will limit his effectiveness against bigger shooting guards.
Antonio Blakeney played his freshman season in Ben Simmons's shadow, but his performance down the stretch suggests that he may be on the verge of a breakout season. As LSU's top returning scorer and perimeter shooter, he will have plenty of opportunities to demonstrate his abilities on the offensive end of the floor. Regardless of his inconsistent freshman year, Blakeney obviously has a lot of scoring talent, and will certainly get some long looks from NBA scouts if he can improve his defense, passing and decision-making. LSU does not play the strongest schedule next year, but early season matchups against Wichita State and Houston might offer scouts a sense of how close he is to getting there.
#9, Isaac Humphries, 7'0, Sophomore, Center, Kentucky
Humphries, a native of Caringbah, Australia, found his way to Kentucky after a successful stint at La Lumiere School in La Porte, Indiana. Humphries, originally a member of the 2016 recruiting class, burst onto the scene during the FIBA U17 competition in 2014 where he averaged 18.9 points and 11.6 rebounds over seven games. Humphries had his most impressive outing against Canada, scoring 41 points, recording 19 rebounds and 5 blocks. Humphries reclassified and spent the 2015-2016 season playing sporadically for Coach Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats.
Humphries settled in to a bench role with the Kentucky Wildcats that saw him start one of the 23 games he appeared in. He played only 9 minutes per game and with another influx of talent looming in Lexington, Humphries should continue to battle for minutes as a sophomore, even if he's been praised early on in the preseason for the improvements he's made.
Humphries is listed at 7'0 and 260 pounds, but possesses an underwhelming 7'0 wingspan. He is a mobile big who has a terrific basketball IQ, but has some limitations athletically in terms of his explosiveness. Humphries improved his body over the course of the season, listed as having a 12.2% body fat percentage at the 2015 UK Pro Day, it will be interesting to see where he tests at this seasons combine, keeping in mind that he won't turn 19 until January.
Humphries' numbers as a freshman weren't overly impressive, at 8.2 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3 blocks per-40, in just 9 minutes per game, but he showed some flashes of potential. Humphries best game of the season was likely his performance against Texas A&M, a game that saw Kentucky lose in overtime. He was productive in his time on the floor, playing 20 minutes, scoring 6 points with 12 rebounds, 1 steal and 2 blocks.
Despite not being overwhelmingly long or explosive, Humphries averaged a solid 3.8 offensive rebounds per-40 and was able to convert on those second chance opportunities, shooting 75% on all offensive rebound possessions per Synergy Sports Technology. He does a great job of putting himself in good rebounding position while playing with a strong motor. Thanks to his good hands he is able to secure rebounds in traffic and finish quickly with either hand around the basket.
With that said, when he caught the ball on cuts and drop-offs, he struggled, shooting only 44.4% on his attempts around the basket, per Synergy Sports Technology, in large part because of his lack of elite length and athleticism. Humphries has a soft touch, but at times seemed overwhelmed by opponents' athleticism, which is not shocking considering he was the youngest player in college basketball. Humphries will need to prove that he can embrace contact and finish against length in traffic as he continues to progress with his college basketball career.
As the Kentucky offense was highly predicated on their guards generating offense, Humphries had few opportunities to showcase his ability as a low-post scorer. He has good footwork around the basket and doesn't allow defenses to speed him up. It will be interesting to see if he features at all on the inside for Kentucky or if he is relied on as a screen setter and rebounder.
Humphries only got to the free-throw line a handful of times this season, but shot 73.3%, making 11 of his 15 total attempts. His mechanics from the charity stripe are solid- he has a good knee bend and high follow through. In game action was a different story though, Humphries shot only 25% in catch and shoot situations, and his percentages plummeted the further away from the basket he moved, shooting 16.7% on jump shots past 17 feet, per Synergy Sports Technology. Looking past his percentages, Humphries has enough of a base in his mechanics that his ability to make jump shots could continue to improve.
Humphries is visibly uncomfortable when forced to move his feet in space on the defensive end. In an era where centers and power forwards are increasingly expected to be able to guard multiple ball screen actions in a single possession, Humphries may seem a bit of an odd fit. He doesn't move his feet particularly well when guarding ball screen actions and is often times out of position to challenge shots- evidenced by his extremely high 8.8 fouls per-40, but his high IQ and solid motor ultimately could help minimize the impact of his physical limitations. This will be one of the biggest keys to him emerging as a serious NBA prospect.
Humphries has the potential to be a solid one on one low post defender, and even showed some signs as a shot blocker, averaging 3.0 blocks per-40 as a freshman. In addition, Humphries does a terrific job of controlling the defensive glass, and if he can find a way to be less foul happy and keep himself on the floor rather than watching from the bench, he could be a productive player for the Wildcats. It is important to note that Humphries' emotions can at times get the better of him as he picked up a crucial technical late against Texas A&M and also has a tendency to hang his head after mistakes.
The key with Humphries is to remember that he is still only 18, not turning 19 until January. He has soft hands, a strong motor and is an instinctual rebounder on both ends of the floor. It will be interesting to see what sort of improvements Humphries has made on his body as well as if he can be a more effective finisher around the rim, consistently protect the rim and stay on the floor for extended periods.
#10, Moses Kingsley, 6'9, Power Forward/Center, Arkansas
Nigerian native Moses Kingsley had a breakout junior season that put him on the radar for the 2016 NBA Draft. After testing the draft waters without hiring an agent, Kingsley ultimately got the feedback he needed, and chose to return to Arkansas for his senior season where he will have the chance to solidify his name as an NBA prospect.
Having not come over to the United States until the 10th grade, Kingsley is a bit of a late bloomer who finished off his high school career at powerhouse Huntington Prep in West Virginia where he played alongside Canadians Andrew Wiggins and Florida State guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes.
As a freshman and sophomore, Kingsley was largely overshadowed by Bobby Portis at Arkansas, and mainly relegated to a bench role, but with the departure of Portis to the NBA, Kingsley saw a highly increased role and was a major piece for Mike Anderson and the Razorbacks last year. He was invited to attend the Nike Skills Academy in California this summer with 20 of the other top returning college players in the country, but struggled to separate himself from the pack.
Kingsley's physical profile, strength, and athletic ability are major factors in allowing him to impact the game the way he does. Measuring in at 6'9 and 236 pounds, he is somewhat stuck between the Power Forward and Center positions, but has the length (7'2.5 wingspan) and play up at his natural center position. He has a mature, developed frame, and a ripped upper body which he uses well to not give up ground defensively in the post and to box guys out on the glass. Kingsley has solid mobility and is a fluid athlete for a player his size. He gets up and down the floor very easily and has the explosive vertical ability to finish above the rim in space, but hasn't shown that same consistency finishing in traffic.
Kingsley's overall offensive skill set took a step in the right direction last season, but still remains a major work in progress. He was featured heavily as a back to the basket option for the Razorbacks, but really only showed some rudimentary moves. He has decent touch within five feet and has a solid right-handed hook that he likes to get to, but doesn't look nearly as comfortable turning over his left shoulder where he will still use his right hand or try to bully his way to the rim rather than using advanced footwork. He has strong hands and is a solid secondary option as a dump off finisher where he does a good job catching and immediately attacking the rim.
While he does struggle to finish consistently in traffic, he has a knack for using his size and strength to initiate contact and gets to the free throw line at a productive rate. He attempted over nine free throws per 40 minutes last season (converting 63.7%) and found nearly a third of his offense from the line.
Kingsley was not featured heavily as a screen and roller, but should have potential in that aspect of the game given his mobility, hands, and finishing ability. Perhaps his most effective offensive skill is what he can do as a rim runner. He is dynamic in transition and does an excellent job running the floor and being the first one down the court, looking for easy scoring options. He can be an effective passer out of the post, and shows occasional flashes of strong straight line drives, but still has a great deal of room for development as a shot-creating threat.
A positive development for Moses Kingsley last season was his ability to step out and knock down a mid range jumper. He shot 47% on 36 attempts between 17' and the 3-point line, somewhat forcing defenses to respect his ability to shoot outside the paint. He doesn't display the same consistent mechanics on each shot which results in some bad misses, but his percentages on a decent sample size show that his ability to hit a mid range jumper is trending in the right direction.
His release isn't the quickest, but he releases his shot from above his head making it difficult to contest. Seemingly knowing his limits, he attempted zero shots from beyond the arc last season, so it will be interesting to see if he can add that into his repertoire going into his senior year.
Where Kingsley can rely on being an effective and consistent contributor is on the defensive end of the floor and on the boards. He was named to the All SEC Defensive team and was one of five players in the country to average at least 1.5 steals and 3.0 blocks per 40 minutes.
With his strength and mobility, Kingsley has some versatility on the defensive end of the floor. He uses his size well to defend bigger players in the post and has the agility and length to be a factor as a perimeter defender particularly in ball screen situations.
He is an elite rim protector with excellent timing who is quick off his feet and has the length to recover from difficult vantage points. In 31 of Arkansas' 32 games, he recorded at least 1 block, including a game against Tennessee Tech in which he had 8.
Kingsley is also a high level rebounder on both ends of the floor. He does an excellent job getting a body on his man, but can also go and get a rebound outside of his area. He has solid instincts, especially on the offensive glass where he averaged 4.4 offensive rebounds per 40, and found the second highest percent of his scoring opportunities.
Moses Kingsley will be the most important piece of an Arkansas team that will look to bounce back from a season in which they finished with 16 wins and 16 losses. He is a high energy, blue collar player who showed last year that he has some budding skills to match up with his motor.
There are several players in the NBA in a similar mold to Kingsley who have been able to find a role as a rebounder and rim protector, but at 6'9 it will be vital for him to show that he is more than just an energy guy. If he can continue to develop his offensive game and show the same prowess on the defensive end of the floor he'll earn plenty of looks come next years' draft.
#11, Wenyen Gabriel, 6'9, Freshman, Power Forward, Kentucky
Without the benefit of extensive high school footage, we prefer to wait and see how Gabriel performs as a freshman before adding to his DraftExpress profile, which already features two scouting reports breaking down his strengths and weaknesses, as well as an interview.