Kevon Harris - Stephen F. Austin - 17.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.5 steals on 47% from the field and 41% from beyond the arc on 4.6 attempts per game
In terms of mid-major prospects that are going to be eligible to be taken in the 2020 NBA Draft, one guy that I’m surprised isn’t receiving more attention from draft experts is this Stephen F. Austin alum. From a statistical perspective, the wing finished fourth in the Southland Conference in points per game while also maintaining an extremely solid 60% True Shooting Percentage. Those factors led to him being named Southland Player of the Year for that 2019-20 season.
While those numbers are very solid in itself, they don’t tell the full story on why Harris stands as a legitimate under-the-radar prospect. Because while his stats are impressive, it honestly pales in comparison to when you watch him actually play. From that perspective, you see a strong 6’6, 219 pound wing that can take it the hole and be able to finish through contact, play lockdown on-ball defense, share the basketball, and be able to nail catch-and-shoot threes on a consistent basis.
Among those skills, his ability as an on-ball driver is probably his most impressive trait despite not having great acceleration or a quick first step. He overcomes that through using crossovers and change of speed moves to get around his opponent. Once he gets to the paint, the wing becomes even a bigger threat through having the athleticism to finish at the rim with a slam and strength to finish through contact. Him being able to use his muscular frame to finish through contact as both an on-ball and transition threat was clear whether he’s going against Duke or a random Southland foe.
Outside of his ability to finish through contact and get to the free throw line, the wing was able to shine as a perimeter threat. As mentioned before, most of that came through catch-and-shoot, where he shot 47% on 95 total attempts, according to Synergy Sports which placed him in the 97th percentile.
The funny thing is that Harris was better when he had a hand in his face as he stayed confidence in his routine as a shooter despite the pressure that was coming at him. Although that approach is a little short as he brings the ball low when he receives the pass, it’s still great to watch with how he finishes with a high release point.
On the other end of the floor, Harris was solid during his college career. Part of that comes from his work as a ball hawk where he finished with a career-high 1.5 steals per game during his senior season. Along with his ability to push the ball out of the hands of opponents or getting into the driving lanes, the 6’6 wing does a great job of being able to defend pick-and-rolls through being able to quickly decipher whether to go over or under screens. Another great skill of his with defending driving guards or wings through being able to direct those players to bigs that are waiting around the paint.
Although Harris is less likely to receive a two-way than guys like Nathan Knight or Jake Toolson, he’s definitely an interesting prospect that could make an immediate impact on the G League level if he decides to go that route.
Yoeli Childs - BYU - 22.2 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 assists on 57% from the field and 48% from beyond the arc on 2.4 attempts per game
Remember in part one of this mid-major series where I said that Lamine Diane was the most intriguing player of the bunch? Well, I might have to change my mind about that after watching former BYU forward Yoeli Childs. Part of that curiosity comes from how great he was during his college career as the West Coast Conference (WCC) named him to the their All-Conference First Team in three consecutive season. The height of that run came during his senior season where he showed some promise as a pick-and-pop threat.
Just based on the perimeter percentage, my wording in the previous sentence might not make sense as it shows him to be a legitimate knockdown threat. However, that tremendous efficiency might be an example of small sample size as Childs only launched up forty six perimeter jumpers during his senior season. In addition to that, he spent his time at BYU struggling at the charity stripe by shooting just 64% on 566 total free throws attempts during the college career. The small sample size mixed with inefficiency from the free-throw line makes me want to wait for another season to get too excited about his potential as a perimeter threat.
Even with that thought in mind, Childs is still an intriguing prospect through his other abilities on the offensive end. On any given night, he was a threat to score 20+ points through creating his own looks in the paint as a cutter, rolling to the rim, snagging offensive rebounds, facilitating, and posting up on both the left and right block. When it comes to his potential as an NBA player, those last two skills are going to stand as being almost as important as his perimeter shooting. That’s due to how well they work in sync together through a lot of his feeds to other players come when working in the low-post.
As you might be able to guess, that fact alone makes him a really tough player to try to guard. Because as a scorer, he’s always a threat through being able to use a strong 225 pound frame to try to overpower the opposition before deciding to pivot to get a better angle at the rim or squaring up to launch a hook shot from either the left or right block. That knack as a post-up threat has been good enough where opposing teams tended to try to double up on him. However, that didn’t work in a lot of occasions as he has the patience and awareness to find one of his BYU teammates.
The offensive traits mentioned over the last few paragraphs along with his production with BYU should be good enough for teams to consider him as a possible prospect to sign to a two-way deal.
Jordan Ford - Saint Mary’s - 21.8 points, 3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.3 steals on 49% from the field and 41% from beyond the arc on 6.1 attempts per game
To start our back-to-back look at potential two-way prospects that shined with Saint Mary’s, we go to a guard that stood out as one of the best mid-major scorers during the 2019-20 season. That claim is both due to his impressive numbers and how electrifying he could be whenever the ball gets into his grasps.
Before we use video to exhibit how he can put on a great show, his statistics were outstanding as he led the West Coast Conference in scoring while maintaining a solid 60% True Shooting Percentage. Although that number is great in itself, it becomes even more impressive when you recognize his 28% Usage Percentage, the third highest in the conference. Those numbers were good enough for him to be named to the All-Conference First Team in both 2018-19 and 2019-20.
In a similar way to how I wrote in the section on Kevon Harris, Ford’s on-court play is a lot more impressive on film than when you look at base or advanced statistics. As mentioned in the first paragraph, the 6’1 guard is a threat to be electrifying whenever the ball reaches his hands. That’s the case through him being an incredibly guard that can blow by his opponent while also being able to break the opposition with slick dribble moves, including this slick maneuver around a Wisconsin defender where he pretends to go right before using a screen to spinning to the other direction and then making a successful drive to the rim where he’s able to finish through contact.
That type of craftiness was pretty common for the young guard as he’s more than capable of using spins, crossovers, or change of speed moves to break down his opposition and get a clear driving lane. Although he’s a smaller guard by standing at 6’1, 190 pounds, the the product of Folsom still does a great job of being able to finish through contact to the point where he sometimes he directs his body into the defender to try to draw an and-1 play. Also he has this really impressive ability to place the ball on the backboard at a good angle where it ends up going through the net more time than not.
Although he’s an incredibly strong on-ball driving threat, Ford might honestly may be even better as a perimeter shooter. In comparison to Childs, the guard is able to combine great efficiency with volume as he shot 42% from beyond the arc on 522 total attempts during his college career with Saint Mary’s.
Those made shots were equally distributed between catch-and-shoot and off-the-dribble looks. As a catch-and-shoot threat, he stands as a swift between capturing the pass and putting up a shot. On the other side, his off-the-dribble game is strong through being able to effectively utilizing screens, using handles to trip his defenders up, and creating space with step-backs.
Ford’s tremendous offensive skills were enough for him to shine as one of the best scorers in mid-major hoops and might be enough for him to get picked up with a two-way deal during the off-season.
Malik Fitts - Saint Mary’s - 16.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.3 steals on 47% from the field and 41% from 3 on 4.6 attempts per game
At the same time that Ford was a threat to catch fire whenever he stepped on the court for Saint Mary’s, Fitts used his junior season with the team to further establish himself as one of the finest mid-major prospects. Along with his volume as a scorer, he was efficiency by maintaining a 59% True Shooting Percentage during his junior season. His status as an elite mid-major player was seen by how the West Coast Conference placed him alongside Ford, Childs, Ross, and Toolson on the All-Conference First Team.
Despite being seven inches and 40 pounds heavier than Ford, the 6’8 and 230 pound forward’s game is actually pretty similar through having his offense being centered around driving to the rim, pushing the ball in transition, and lighting it up from beyond the arc.
Among those traits, his ability as a driver is probably the most enjoyable to watch as his first step is quick enough to maneuver around most WCC defenders that were playing too close to him. Even if that first step wasn’t enough, the young forward still was able to get around defenders through using a spin move that also gave him a good angle to finish around the rim.
As a perimeter threat, Fitts did most of his damage during the 2019-20 through catch-and-shoot opportunities. From that perspective, he was extremely efficient through shooting 43% on 112 total attempts, according to Synergy Sports.
Despite that efficient percentage, he still has room to grow as his shooting stroke is definitely on the slow side which might hurt him at the NBA or G League level where defenders close out much quicker than guys in the WCC or Big Ten. If that process speeds up a bit, he could become a dangerous threat as his actual stroke is smooth and has a high release point.
Although his work as a scorer was enough for him to be one of the best prospects in mid-major hoop, Fitts was really a two-way threat by being able to shine as an on-ball defender. Spending most of the season defending against small and power forwards, he was able to stick with them from perimeter to paint when they’re driving to the paint. That hard defense also led to the opposition to making mistakes as he collected 1.3 steals per game as a junior.
Fitts’ strength as a scorer and on-ball defender allowed him to be a strong 2nd weapon for a solid Saint Mary’s squad. Although those traits likely won’t be enough for him to get selected in the 2020 NBA Draft, don’t be surprised to see a team snag him on a two-way deal during the off-season.
De’Riante Jenkins - VCU - 10.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.9 steals on 40% from the field and 33% from beyond the arc on 4.2 attempts per game
To finish out this series on mid-major prospects, let’s explore a dark horse player that stood as a solid but overlooked player on Mike Rhoades’ VCU squads. Unlike the other four players featured in this piece, Jenkins stood out through his play on the defensive end. His approach to this end of the floor is of a player that has clearly put in his time studying film and understanding the tactics of whoever he’s scheduled to defend on that particular night. This thought comes from how he knows whether to work over or under the screen in a blink of an eye or knowing which hip to stay to with an opposing guard that frequently drives towards the paint.
Along with making life for those players to the point where they only shoot 36% from the field against Jenkins, according to Synergy, the 6’5 is also capable of using his reach to force turnovers. Unlike a lot of guards or wings, most of these turnovers come through strong defensive pressure that leaves to mistakes than him intercepting a pass like an NFL cornerback.
Although he isn’t an offensively minded player, Jenkins isn’t necessarily a slouch on this end of the floor. At first glance, Jenkins might not seem to have upside as a perimeter threat due to only shooting 33% from beyond the arc. However, you should have more optimism due to two reasons: free-throw efficiency and catch-and shooting.
In regards to work on the charity stripe, Jenkins was fantastic during the 2019-20 season where he shot 87% on 72 total free throw attempts. Along with that, the young wing also shot 37% on catch-and-shoot perimeter jumpers, according to Synergy Sports. His efficiency in that area shows that he could be a threat from deep if he’s placed within a G League or international offense that uses him as an off-ball threat that can maneuver around screens and get to his spots on the court.
Despite his great play on defense and potential as a perimeter threat, Jenkins probably isn’t even likely to receive a two-way despite his position on this list. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep an eye on him during this off-season and the upcoming 2020-21 season as progression as a shooter and expanding his ability as a facilitator could allow him to possibly become a better defending Jacobi Boykins, who stood as a solid 2nd unit option for the RGV Vipers during the 2019-20 campaign. If Jenkins goes down that direction, he could become a candidate to receive a 10-day deal after a few years of progression on the G League level, if he goes that route.