College stars to NBA? Scoring is great, but can he defend?

College stars to NBA? Scoring is great, but can he defend?

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Oral Roberts’ Max Abmas won the NCAA scoring title as a sophomore, averaging 24.5 points and he helped his team become the second No. 15 seed in history to reach the Sweet 16.

He’s also been among the nation’s top scorers the past two seasons, averaging 22 points this year near the top of Division I.

His resume, like those of several top players in the college ranks this season, looks great. But is it worthy of the NBA? This is where the Rockwell, Texas native has a lot to prove, and he’s not the only one. A number of players with eye-catching numbers may or may not make it to the top league in the world.

At just 6 feet tall and 175 pounds, Abmas is said to be among the smallest guards in the NBA, so showing he can defend as well as score will be a necessity.

“The size aspect can make me an underdog for sure, but it’s kind of something I’ve dealt with all my life, even coming out of high school and not being really heavily recruited,” Abmas said. “A lot of coaches probably thought I was too small.”

The way this unfolds could force Abmas to execute Plan B: He earns a degree in biomedical engineering with plans to pursue a career in forensics after his playing career.

JAKE STEPHENS, 7-0, 275, Chattanooga

A four-year starter at VMI, this graduate student stands out from the other greats on the draft boards because he’s an “incredible shooter” from 3-pointers, according to Ryan Blake, director of scouting for the NBA. Stephens has 42 3s this season on 41% shooting, and he’s also averaging 2.35 blocks and 10.2 rebounds.

“The problem is, he’s not that mobile,” Blake said, which could have teams concerned that he can’t hold his own against big, athletic men on the defensive end. “He’s so smart and he can pass the ball. If he was really good at athletics, he’d be a lottery pick.

DREW TIME, 6-10, 235, Gonzaga

AP All-American for the past two seasons, Timme has been a big reason No. 12 Gonzaga has lived near the top of the standings. He’s averaging 21.4 points and shooting 61%, but isn’t shooting many 3s (2 of 18) and isn’t a dominant rebounder (7.5 rpg) even in the mediocre West Coast Conference.

What he does have, however, is a high basketball IQ and a knack for stepping up at the critical moment.

“You look, take a pie chart and plot all these things,” Blake said. “The guy knows how to play. He can score. He can defend, but can he defend at the top level? Can he defend against stronger and faster players? Those will be the questions that need to be answered and that’s probably why he hasn’t left yet.

Timme’s endorsement earnings are believed to be at least close to the $200,000 to $500,000 NBA rookies can earn on two-way contracts.

Timme could return to the Zags next season thanks to the NCAA giving every player in the COVID-19 years an option for an additional year. His projected position in the draft could be key as contracts for first-round picks are guaranteed; second-round contracts are not.

ANTONY DAVIS, 6-1, 165, Detroit Mercy

The NCAA scoring leader this season (26 per game) broke Wofford’s Division I Fletcher Magee record of 509 career 3-pointers, then beat John Grotberg of Grinnell’s mark of 526 in all the splits.

On Wednesday, Davis has 534 3s and ranks second on the NCAA scoring list with 3,332 career points, second only to LSU’s Pete Maravich (3,667).

Maravich has set his mark in just three seasons: Davis is in his fifth year with at least nine games to play and would need to average more than 37 points to catch Maravich.

“He can shoot. He can score. He’s the son of a trainer. Lots of qualities,” Blake said of the 6-1 son of Titans coach Mike Davis. “I like the kid. He’ll be a guy who can be more of a playmaker, distributor, defender.

Davis seems to have the tools – he and Saint Peter’s Keydren Clark are the only players in history with 3,000 points and 500 assists.

Blake and his team are inviting 64 players to the three-day Portsmouth Invitational in Virginia. Not the draft-eligible must-have players, the guests are the ones who deserve closer scrutiny against better competition.

The four-day, 12-game tournament in April is attended by scouts from the NBA and international leagues. The organizers guarantee that at least five players will then be invited to the Chicago NBA reaper, where many of the best players in the draft group will face off.

AP College Basketball: and and

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