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Posted On: 06/19/18 12:00 PM
Thursday night is the 2018 NBA Draft. While many are focusing on what will happen at the top of the draft with the Suns most likely to take Arizona center DeAndre Ayton at PrepHoopsIllinois we wanted to take a look at three prospects from the state of Illinois that will hear their names called on Thursday night.
Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State)
High School: Normal U-High
Travel Team: Illinois Wolves
High School Days:
KBD is a prospect that emerged early in his career. What stood out from the beginning was his go go gadget arms and his ability to shoot it from the perimeter. Bates-Diop had plus size for position and projectability which made him intriguing to colleges. Solid skill level that was highlighted with his feathery jumper that stretched out to three. Most saw him as a combo forward at the next level which is what he went on to become at the college level. He was ranked right behind two of the top overall post players in the country in Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander while being one spot ahead of current Suns backup point guard Tyler Ulis.
He was a priority for Big 10 schools from the very jump with programs like Michigan and Illinois being heavily in the mix for his services. KBD informed me of his commitment on a weekend morning right before his junior season kicked off. He said the reason he picked the Buckeyes was “I felt really good about the school and the relationships with the staff. The academics are great too and the people I met around campus were great too.”
After a standout season where he won Big 10 Player of the Year while averaging 19.8 points per game and 8.7 rebounds per game KBD is expected to get drafted somewhere in the 20-40 range on Thursday night. Couple of spots in the late first round to watch include the Lakers at #25 and Warriors at #28.
Jalen Brunson (Villanova)
High School: Stevenson
Travel Team: Mac Irvin Fire/Team NLP
Brunson broke out the spring before his sophomore season with Team NLP and would steadily elevate his game throughout his high school and travel team career in the Nike EYBL with the Fire. He led Stevenson to three consecutive final four appearances with his final game in Peoria winning a state title as a senior. Brunson was looked at as the ultimate floor general and leader. He could score it at a high rate with a sick step back and was crafty scoring off the bounce. One of the best pure high school basketball players I have covered in my career. Early in his career he battled Charles Matthews for the top spot in the class, but he owned the spot the last 18 months of his high school career.
Brunson’s recruitment had a lot of twist and turns. Down the stretch it seemed inevitable that he was headed to Temple where his dad played after he was hired as an assistant coach. The NBA assistant was let go just days after being hired. That reopened things with Illinois and Villanova emerging as the favorites. Brunson took officials to the two programs back to back weekends and then announced his choice to the Wildcats.
In college Brunson accomplished pretty much everything you could ask with National Player of the Year awards and a pair of National Championships in his three seasons. I remember talking to multiple NBA scouts and front office executives at the Nike Global Challenge during his high school career about him. The things I remember them saying was he would be an outstanding college player, winner, and after a few years a backup NBA point guard. Seems they were right on the money as he should fall somewhere in the 25-45 range on Thursday. Might not be the most exciting player in the draft, but he is going to be rock solid!
Jevon Carter (West Virginia)
High School: Proviso East
Travel Team: Team NLP
Carter brought a lot of the same qualities that you see now back in high school. His relentless work ethic was what stood out the most. He would not let an opponent out work him and willed Proviso East to wins. Plus defender that pressured the ball all over the floor and was a solid jump shooter. The question mark for myself and high major college coaches was his size to play the off guard and he didn’t show a great feel as a playmaker.
Carter’s recruitment was mostly mid-majors outside of West Virginia. Some of the mid-majors that offered included Loyola, La Salle, Illinois State, Toledo, Indiana State, and Wisconsin Green Bay. The story is well known that Bob Huggins saw Carter with his intensity in an 8 AM game in Orlando and extended an offer. The rest is history.
To say Carter exceeded expectations would be an understatement. Two time Big 12 defensive player of the year that improved his offensive game proving he could be a guy that runs the show. Stuffed the stat sheet this year for 17 points, 6 dimes, 4 boards, and 3 steals per game. Carter is garnering heavy interest in the late first round and should be gone by no later than the mid-second. Also in that #25-#45 range. Garnering a lot of comps to former Chicago prep standout Patrick Beverly as a pesky defender off the bench.
Potential Undrafted Free Agents from Illinois
Kendall Stephens (Nevada – St. Charles East)
Kendrick Nunn (Oakland – Simeon)
Donte Ingram (Loyola – Simeon)