Undervalued: Mid-Major Impact Players
Finding these overlooked players isn’t as tough as it used to be with the television coverage and scouting advances, but it’s possible for them to still get lost behind the hype of younger, less experienced players. Here are four players who have the potential, albeit possibly not 1st round, to hear their names called in June, but may not be recognizable to the average fan.
Alec Brown – Green Bay’s 7’1 senior center has been on the NBA’s radar for a few seasons, but has yet to take the leap that many had hoped for earlier. Tall and thin, Brown is much more comfortable playing away from the basket, and has developed a nice perimeter shot. Obviously, the looks he will get at his size give him an advantage, but he still needs to become a bigger threat in the post. Fundamentally strong on both ends of the floor, Brown has also shown better athleticism than expected. His size and skill will intrigue teams, but unless he can dominate at the mid-major level, teams will likely be willing to pass and hope to get him later on.
Cleanthony Early –An athletic wing with good size, Early’s first season in Division 1 after leaving the JUCO ranks was a clear success, culminating in Wichita State’s run to the Final Four. Early was the leading scorer for that team, and he showed a good mix of skill and physical ability as a threat to score from most spots on the floor. Two major areas Early will need to work on during this season are becoming a more consistent shooter as well as becoming a more engaged defender. Adding this to his natural abilities will only make him more attractive to teams come June.
Deonte Burton – Burton’s numbers over the past few seasons would not automatically make you think potential NBA player, but he’s had to carry a heavier scoring burden for his Nevada team than he would ever need to at the professional level. Burton is actually a good distributor with his ability to get into the lane quickly, draw defenders and find the open man. Decision-making has never been a strong suit, but if he can figure out how to make proper reads when running the offense instead of playing with a score first mentality, he could find NBA teams interested in developing him further.
Corey Hawkins – Though only in his junior season of eligibility, it is actually Hawkins 4th year in college after sitting out after transferring from Arizona State. The son of former NBA player Hersey, Hawkins plays like a kid who grew up around the game at a high level. One of the more skilled guards offensively in the nation, Hawkins has also shown the ability to facilitate the UC-Davis offense. He has a great feel for the game, and he thrives as his team’s go-to guy. The big thing with Hawkins is seeing if he would be able to bring what he does best, score, to the NBA level while learning how to defend quicker guards. His future may be at the point guard position, so it pays to see how he progresses with those skills.