I have a friend. Let’s call him Chris. Every year he puts together his “big board” for the NBA Draft. He watches game tape on YouTube, crunches the numbers and puts together an expansive mock draft evaluating all the players. Very few people ever see this big board. However, it does make for (relatively) exciting times while watching the draft.
On Thursday, I will be going to Chris’ house to watch the NBA Draft and from a Cincinnati Bearcats perspective, there isn’t a whole lot to get excited about. That’s actually a good thing, although it would be nice if graduated seniors Justin Jenifer and Cane Broome had a chance at having their name called. The reason it is ultimately good news for the Bearcats is because their one NBA prospect, Jarron Cumberland, chose to play one more year rather than stay in the draft pool.
However, with Cumberland back on campus and Jenifer and Broome both without even remotely realistic chances of being drafted on Thursday, it makes the draft a little less exciting than last year when Jacob Evans was a first round pick. Still, the Bearcats’ conference isn’t without its prospects this year. You may need to stay up a little later than you’d like, but here are some players from the league who may get the call tonight.
It seems like Jeffries is the most likely player from the American Athletic Conference to be picked. A brief Google search for mock drafts will reveal that the former Tulsa guard is expected to go firmly in the second round, although the exact spot varies widely, with The Ringer projecting him to be taken 54th overall. Making it as a second-round selection is far from easy, but if Jeffries can use his 6’5” frame and his improving offense game to his advantage, he has a shot at making an NBA roster.
Fall and his UCF Knights nearly toppled Duke in the NCAA Tournament and the Blue Devils were loaded with projected lottery picks like Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish. The 7’6” center had 15 points, six rebounds and three blocks in that game before fouling out and that was after producing 13 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks in the first round against VCU. A team that picks Fall would be looking for someone to guard the paint and crash the boards, but it remains to be seen if Fall’s game still translates to the modern NBA since he has very limited range and is still developing as an offensive threat.
At one point, Foster was expected to be a name to watch in the first round, but his status has fallen, partially due to injury, and now he is more of a fringe second round prospect. ESPN has him ranked as the No. 80 player overall in the draft while Sports Illustrated is a bit more optimistic, placing him at No. 58. Any team willing to take a flyer on him would be hoping he can get back to the player he was in 2016-17 when he shot 44.4 percent from three on 2.1 attempts per game and posted a 125.1 offensive rating while scoring 21 points per 100 possessions.
Dawkins is hoping his transfer from Michigan to UCF and subsequent increase in production can be parlayed into an NBA job. In his lone season with the Knights, the 6’6” swingman scored 15.6 points per game and shot 40.3 percent from three on 5.5 attempts per game. His shooting ability could be a real asset to a team looking to bolster its offense in the continually three-point dominant NBA. Dawkins knocked down 42.2 percent of his three-point tries during his collegiate career and he also showed promise on the defensive side of the floor with the Knights. Like the other guys on this list, Dawkins is far from a sure bet to be drafted, but there is enough potential there for him to have a shot.
Corey Davis Jr.
Davis was a first-team all-conference performer this past season. He scored with ease, averaging 15.1 points per game and shooting nearly 40 percent from three on an impressive 7.4 attempts per game through his two seasons with the Houston Cougars. The 6’1” guard can also distribute and lock down on defense. Despite such a dynamic skill set, Davis isn’t expected to be picked on Thursday, although Sports Illustrated ranks him the No. 100 eligible player.
Davis’ teammate and backcourt partner is another former Cougar who can really shoot. He made 3.3 triples per game this past season on 39 percent efficiency. He has also displayed strong rebounding skills and a talent for defense. Brooks doesn’t seem likely to be picked, but like Davis, there are certainly aspects of his game that could be attractive to an NBA team, even if it means he has to sign as an undrafted free agent.
Like Brooks, who is forgoing his senior season at Houston to go pro, Sehic just finished his junior season with Tulane. Originally a Vanderbilt recruit, the 6’9” forward spent the last two seasons with the Green Wave and averaged 11.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He also expanded his shooting range and ended up attempting 3.5 threes per game this past season. He is another player that will likely go undrafted but we’ll have to wait until tonight to find out.
This is just a collection of the players from the AAC who could potentially be drafted, with guys like Jalen Adams (UConn) and Jeremiah Martin (Memphis) also ready to take that next step even if their actual draft stock isn’t particularly high. With only 60 picks to be made, it seems likely that many of the best players from the AAC will have to try make it as undrafted free agents, just like 2018 AAC Player of the Year Gary Clark did a year ago.