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Twenty Mid-Major Prospects That Could Get Two-Way Contracts During the 2020 Offseason: Part One

In part one of the mid-major section of our this ongoing series, we break down five excellent mid-major prospects that could possibly get signed to a two-way deal.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Liberty vs Mississippi State Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Caleb Homesley - Liberty University: 15.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.1 steals on 47% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc on 4.7 attempts per game during senior year

Despite entering the school as an unranked high school prospect, Caleb Homesley was able to establish himself as a crucial part of Liberty from day one. As a freshman, the 6’6 guard stood as a part of the team’s core as he averaged 7.2 points and 3.4 rebounds on 48% from the field and 36% from 3 on 2.6 attempts per game.

In the following season, he tore the ligament in his right knee during a December 10th game against Princeton, which put a premature end to his scheduled sophomore season. However, redshirting during the remainder of that year allowed him to maintain his eligibility and allowed him to spend three more years with the school. During that time, he steadily progressed as he slowly climbed up the team’s offensive ladder.

That progression reached its plateau during his senior year in 2019-20, where Homesley averaged a career-high 15.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.1 steals on 47% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc on 4.7 attempts per game. Those numbers were enough for him to win the Atlantic Sun Player of the Year and be named first team all-conference.

Homesley’s path towards being a stud an Atlantic Sun great has a lot to do with him being a tremendous athlete that also works his butt off on both ends of the court. The most clear example of his energy is seen on the defensive end as the prospect loves to play help defense when an opposing team pushes the ball to the low-post. That work to double up the post man intends to make him feel pressure while eliminating some options for him to pass the ball to.

On the offensive end, he’s definitely an interesting prospect in some ways. For example, he stands as a pretty explosive player that is able to finish at the rim with either his left or right hand. However, most of those times occur after he cuts to the rim. When he’s moving with the ball in his hands, the guard is more comfortable with throwing up left-handed runners. Another sign of his intrigue deals with his work as a perimeter threat, as he’s successful both in catch-and-shoot and off-the-dribble situations. However, his potential as a shooter remains in question as Homesley shot just 60% from the free throw line during his senior year, which is usually a bad sign for shooters.

Despite the questions that I may have for him, Homesley still stands as a solid prospect that you could possibly see in the G League next year through his energy on defense, solid runner and work as an off-ball cutter, and being a solid facilitator that can use his 6’6 frame to look over the court and find teammates.

Lamine Diane - Cal State Northridge: 25.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.7 steals, and 2 blocks on 48% from the field and 29% from 3 on 2.9 attempts per game during sophomore year

Among the mid-major prospects that are going to be discussed over the course of this four-part series, Lamine Diane might be the most intriguing prospect of the bunch. That has to do with him being a 6’7, 205 pound product with a long wingspan that had incredible success as a small-ball four. In fact, he Diane won Big West Player of the Year during his two seasons as a college prospect in both 2018-19 and 2019-20.

On the defensive end of the floor, Diane was fantastic as he showed this rare ability to stand as a fantastic rim protector while also being able to go out to the perimeter and hedge on pick-and-rolls or occasionally even being able to switch. Among those skills, he’s probably most comfortable as a shot blocker as he shows good awareness and uses his quick feet to close ground in a hurry. Another good thing about him is that most of his blocks stay in bounds which let Cal State Northridge push the ball in transition.

Speaking of pushing the ball up the court in transition, the forward is extremely comfortable when he’s in the midst of doing that as his ball control is solid for a mid-major prospect of his size. That combined with his quickness and athleticism allows him to be a tremendous transition threat.

Moving into half-court sets, the forward is still able to standout through his work in the paint as a low-post threat and snagging offensive rebounds. In the low-post, Diane is phenomenal on both the left and right block with good touch and excellent footwork. Although those traits allowed him to shine in that area, he wouldn’t be the excellent threat that he is without a go-to move where he dips low and uses his hips to pivot away from the defender to gain an opening to put up an open shot close to the rim.

Despite his success as a post-up threat and ability to snag two offensive boards per game, he still has room to grow as an offensive player. For example, his potential as a shooter remains in question as he shot just 29% from three and 66% from the charity stripe during his sophomore years. Those aren’t exactly the type of numbers that make you optimistic that he can improve to the point where he can be a reliable perimeter threat. However, being upset at that low free-throw percentage might not be the best idea as it was a significant fourteen percent improvement over the 52% that he made as a freshman.

Despite his struggles as a shooter and staying out of foul trouble, Diane does have a chance to get selected in this year’s draft as he currently sits 71st in ESPN’s top 100 draft prospects list. That means if he doesn’t get selected, there’s a strong change that he’ll get signed to a two-way deal.

Colbey Ross - Pepperdine: 20.5 points, 7.2 assists, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.1 steals on 40% from the field and 35% from beyond the arc on 6.6 attempts per game during junior year

While Diane has a strong change to get selected in this year’s draft, you can’t say the same thing about the former Pepperdine standout. That doesn’t mean he was a bum during his college days as he actually stood as one of the best guards in the West Coast Conference. He showed that during his senior season where he finished second in the conference in points and first in assists per game. This allowed him to be one of the ten players to finish on the all-conference first team.

Ross was able to accomplish those feats through being a dynamic offensive weapon that was a threat to put the team on his back whenever he stepped on the court. A prime example of that was seen in a February 13th game against San Diego. After only scoring four points in the first half, Ross became a new man in the second half through using a series of floaters and perimeter shots to score 17 points during the 20-minute period which was enough to turn Pepperdine’s ten point deficit at halftime to a 72-69 win. Of course, that run was capped off by him nailing a buzzer-beating three to clinch the win.

Those floaters and long-range bombs that he used to his team to victory over San Diego are the same methods that he used during his stellar college career. When it comes to utilizing that first skill, the young guard is excellent with being able to use his quickness split a pick-and-roll when the big decides to show on the perimeter. After making that accomplishment or using quickness and good handles to work around his opponent, he’s able to quickly settle in and throw up a right-handed floater.

Moving onto his work as a perimeter threat, his efficiency took a step back by going from 40% in 2018-19 to 36% during this past season. That drop had something to do with the graduation of long-range threat Eric Cooper forcing him to having an increased role within the team’s offense, as his field-goal attempts per game increased from 12.1 in 2018-19 to 15.8 during this past season. Him having a bigger responsibility ultimately to him taking some inefficient shots late in the shot clock. When he doesn’t that pressure, Ross is able to really impress as he has great range which he can use in both catch-and-shoot and off-the-dribble situations.

Besides his work as a perimeter threat and floater, Ross was able to impress on the offensive end through being a dynamic facilitator. During his junior season, he averaged a conference-best 7.2 assists per game with a solid 1.6 Ast/TO ratio. When you watch film of him work, the guard seems at his best when he’s trying to push the ball to one of his teammates. Whether it’s finding a cutter, throwing an entry pass to a big, or driving and kicking it to a shooter, the young guard seems confident in the moves that he makes as a facilitator.

Despite all the words that have been written, there’s still a chance that Ross can return to Pepperdine as the junior still has a year of eligibility remaining. However, being part of an all-conference teams in two straight years combined with Gonzaga ‘s presence preventing other teams having a shot to win the conference would make it seem like he doesn’t have much else to accomplish at the college level. In addition to that, Ross would be a great fit for the G League due to him being a quick guard that does a great job of finding teammates and can get hot from beyond the arc.

Jalen Harris - Nevada: 21.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.1 steals on 45% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc on 6.2 attempts per game during junior year

After a solid two-year run with Louisiana Tech, 6’5 guard Jalen Harris was willing to wait a year before transferring over to Nevada for the 2019-20 season. That risk paid off in gigantic ways as the guard was able to immediately become the top scorer in a Mountain West Conference that included potential NBA players Sam Merrill and Malachi Flynn. That ability to lead the team in scoring was the best reason behind why Harris was one of the five players that were part of the Mountain West’s All-Conference First Team.

The redshirt junior’s guard path towards being an elite scorer was led by him having a tremendous work ethic that currently allows him to be a versatile scorer. During his excellent season with Nevada, the guard showed an ability to drive to the rim with either his left or right hand, shoot off-the-dribble shots from inside or outside the perimeter, , facilitate, and nail catch-and-shoot jumpers.

Among this skills, his knack as a driver is probably the most impressive as the guard is comfortable with being able to drive and finish at the rim with either his left or right hand. That’s remarkable in itself when you consider that a lot of guards at the mid-major level rely on one hand without really being able to drive with the other. In addition to him being ambidextrous in his work as a driver, he also uses slick crossovers and handles to lull the opponent to sleep before going in for the kill.

Moving away from the rim, the guard was still able to have success as he shot 36% from 3. However, that decent percentage doesn’t tell the full story of his perimeter success, or lack thereof, during the 2019-20 campaign. During non-conference competition, Harris was atrocious from long-range, where he shot 16% on four attempts per game during eight games. Those struggles might have had something to do with a right foot injury that he suffered during the team’s season debut. Although he was able to get back on the court a week later, it would make sense for him to struggle to get the lift on the jump shot that would happen if he was fully healthy

However, his luck took a full 180 degree change during conference play as he hit 41% on 6.7 perimeter attempts per game. What Harris showed during his run against Mountain West squads may be more representative of how he is as a shooter, as the 6’5 guard shot 44% from beyond the arc during his sophomore season with Louisiana Tech.

Jalen Harris’ stance as a versatile on-ball driver, solid pick-and-roll facilitator, that is probably a better shooter than the stats may show allows him to be a solid candidate for a two-way deal if he decides to stay in the NBA Draft.

Dantez Walton - Northern Kentucky: 16.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.4 steals on 45% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc on 6.5 attempts per game during senior year

In the previous section on Jalen Harris, it was noted that he impressed during conference play. The opposite was the case for the former Northern Kentucky standout as he played at a level in non-conference play where he was a possible contender for Horizon League Player of the Year. In nine non-conference games, he averaged 16.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.1 steals on 53% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc on 5.9 attempts per game.

However, that great start was met with unfortunate news as he would suffer a shoulder injury after the December 15th game against Illinois State. That injury was harsh enough that wasn’t able to get back on the court for a January 31st matchup against UW-Green Bay. While Norse were obviously glad to see him return, the 6’6 wing wasn’t able to play at the level that he did in the early weeks of the season. In Horizon League play, he struggled with efficiency by averaging 13.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.5 steals on 36% from the field and 31% from beyond the arc on 6.9 attempts per game.

That rough end to his senior season was depressing as we really didn’t get a chance to see how developed he was as a player after making steady improvements from his freshman year. While he was awarded the Horizon All-League Third Team, it was just a consolation prize for a player that was on his way towards having the best season of his career.

Although his senior year wasn’t the best, it doesn’t mean that his outlook as a pro would also be negative. In fact, Walton has plenty of upside as a strong 6’6, 215 pound wing that can drive to the rim with both hands, has made steady progressions as a perimeter shooter, snag offensive rebounds, uses verticality to protect the rim, and has upside as a point forward. All of those skills allows him to be an intriguing prospect that can make an impact on both ends of the floor.

Although those skills allows him to be a potential two-way prospect, it would probably be better for a team to sign him to an exhibit 10 deal. That’s largely due to how teams don’t have a chance to see how healthy he is due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 eliminating workouts that would prove that he’s truly at 100%. If an NBA team is interested in him, they can have him spend a few months with their G League affiliate and make a decision on whether to transform his contract to a two-way deal.