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NBA Pre-Draft: Who Caught My Eye This Week In Chicago?

June 28, 2021

It’s the end of June which means that draft season is approaching.

Over the last few days I got the chance to see the beautiful city of Chicago and more importantly got a very nice look at several guys who are declared for the upcoming NBA Draft. Obviously during the Pre-draft it’s a lot of skill work and just an opportunity for draft prospects to showcase their talents in front of the entire NBA.

But no, literally.

Chicago was flooded with NBA personnel, along with the dynamo of talent in this upcoming draft. So, who did I get the chance to see workout and what are my takeaways? Let’s dive into it.

I’ll start off with Shawnee State’s EJ Onu:

Onu has been drawing tons of intrigue from around the league and it’s likely due to his impressive physical frame along with his intriguing skillset. Besides having one of the most impressive wingspans over the last decade [7’8], Onu provides just more than length. I watched him partake in several three-point shooting drills, including a successful go from NBA range as he was sinking three’s all morning.

A very impressive attribute that I believe scouts should look at is Onu’s ability to impact his teammates and help contribute to victories. Onu arrived during the 2017-18 season and his squad held a 14-17 record overall and had four conference wins. Fast forward to this year, Onu and Shawnee State had an absolute dominant year, winning 31 games, only losing two, and completing the season on a 27-game win streak and a title.

Listen to this stat line: 16.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 4.6 blocks per game this past season. Was his team’s leader and top player but put his team first and it led to both team success and individual success for Onu. He was also one of the most effective shot-blockers in college basketball history, recording over 500 career blocks which oh my, is incredible.

He’s worked out for several teams, including the Boston Celtics. I believe he could be a sleeper pick in this draft. The size is there, the skillset is there, but, the upside is just major. One team could be getting themselves a potential gem. 

Jordan Hall? Legit.

Yes, the stuff people are saying about Texas A&M’s Jordan Hall are absolutely true. This kid has everything and more, could easily be a first-round pick in this draft. Great size, can shoot the ball at a nice rate, and obviously prides himself on teammate involvement as he led the nation in assists for all freshmen at 5.6 assists per game.

Hall arrived in Chicago a bit later then some guys, but not because he was doing nothing, this man was at USA Basketball camp and made an excellent run and according to many, was super impressive and was just short of making the final roster. Safe to say, Hall has had a very busy week. Had a very nice pro day, has upcoming NBA workouts, and just competed at USA Basketball which is evidently one of the biggest stages in basketball.

He’s already completed several NBA workouts in the month of June. The Celtics, Spurs, Thunder, Rockets, are amongst just a few teams who have worked out the former Saint Joseph’s frosh. Hall’s future in the NBA isn't too far off and one franchise could land themselves a major talent in this year’s draft.

A real Stock Riser in Utah Valley’s Fardaws Aimaq.

This is a guy who was quite impressive, actually very impressive. Utah Valley’s Fardaws Aimaq. Had the best rebounding season in NCAA since 1980. Obviously that stat means he led the nation in rebounds and that was a major feat, recording nearly 15.3 rebounds per game. But, I’m not hear to discuss the things that are obvious.

Aimaq is more than a rebounder. This past season, he scored nearly 14 points per game and recorded 1.7 blocks per game. In shooting drills yesterday, Aimaq thrived and was hitting tons of shots from all over the floor at UIC’s training facility. One day prior, he was a standout during Beyond Athlete Management’s Pro Day, where according to many, he absolutely killed it.

The Utah Valley star had a major impact on his program from day one and the numbers he put up in his first season proved in. In April, he announced that he will pursue his dream of making the NBA, with that he had to reform his body and truly develop and it’s clear he did just that. He looked the part of a physically skilled prospect who can do many things on a basketball court.

Anthony Tarke? Sleeper prospect.

Coppin State’s Anthony Tarke. The MEAC player of the year this season and a guy that impacted his team on both ends of the floor.

But, I must say, defensively he had one of the most impressive seasons in college basketball. Tarke averaged 1.6 blocks per game along with 2.6 steals. A nightmare for every opposing offense, the 6-foot-6 prospect competes on defense and earns his buckets offensively. He ranks amongst the Top-50 in college basketball in several defensive categories, but his offensive game also stands out.

I watched Tarke take on shooting drills. He’s a 47% shooter from the field, his three-point game needs work but watching him yesterday it’s evident that he’s improved in that area. I watched Tarke casually doing spot shooting from NBA range and there were several spots where he was absolute cash. A guy of Tarke’s caliber, already a lockdown defender and a prime scorer around the rim and so forth, will find a spot in the league and shout-out to Yoda, Rashad Phillips, who will back this case.

Tarke has worked out with the Minnesota Timberwolves prior to his arrival in Chicago. He will head to Golden State this upcoming week and complete a workout with the Warriors. It’s evident, Tarke lights up a room off the floor and competes on both ends on the floor. Will be an enticing prospect to keep track of.

Ending it off with my possible steal, Texas’ Matt Coleman

The 2021 Big 12 conference tournament MVP, Coleman has been lighting it up on the biggest stage of college basketball for multiple seasons now. Size is the question that everybody asks, but, in my opinion his elite skillset at the guard spot should cause no concern.

A 13 point-4.5 assist per game guy, Coleman has proven to not only be lightning quick but he can really do special things on the offensive end. Shot the ball at an efficient clip during his senior campaign at 48% shooting, also shot 38% from behind the arc and was super effective during Shaka Smart’s final season in Austin.

Coleman has completed several NBA workouts including the Knicks, Celtics, Kings, and has plenty of others scheduled. Scouts rave about Coleman both on and off the floor and after a very impressive Pro Day and with more workouts scheduled, it wouldn't surprise me if the Norfolk, Virginia native gains traction as we are moving towards draft month.


Tags: NBA Draft
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