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10 Under-the-Radar 2014 NBA Draft Prospects Every Fan Must Know

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterSeptember 17, 2013

10 Under-the-Radar 2014 NBA Draft Prospects Every Fan Must Know

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    There's a few prospects every year who emerge as sleeper NBA candidates. 

    Some didn't get the opportunity to showcase their skills as underclassmen. Others remain hidden in mid-major conferences. 

    The following prospects are those who haven't received much recognition on the national stage, but actually deserve it. 

    I've given each prospect an "NBA Draft Ceiling," which represents a best-case scenario for them on draft day. Their "NBA Draft Floor" represents a worst-case scenario. 

Semaj Christon, Xavier, 6'3'', PG

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    NBA Draft Ceiling: Late Lottery

    NBA Draft Floor: Late First Round

    Semaj Christon put up big-time numbers as a freshman, doing so in stylish and captivating fashion. 

    He stands out visually at 6'3'' with a strong frame and long arms. Christon is a physical guard who can play off contact, which he sometimes initiates on purpose. 

    Defenders had trouble keeping him from getting into the paint, where he was able to score using hang time, body control and touch. 

    His ability to penetrate the first line of defense allows him to set up teammates off the dribble. Christon averaged 4.6 assists to go with his 15 points a game, providing Xavier with a scoring playmaker at the point guard position. 

    Christon wasn't much of a threat from the outside as a freshman, but there's always room for growth here. If he can show promise as a shooter in 2013-14, Christon has the upside to generate lottery interest.  

Wayne Selden, Kansas, 6'5'', SG

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    NBA Draft Ceiling: Top 10

    NBA Draft Floor: Top 20

    Wayne Selden hasn't been under the radar with regard to recruiting. But some might be sleeping on him as an immediate-impact freshman and one-and-done NBA prospect. 

    He stands around 6'5'' and 223 pounds with a strong frame that he uses to barrel through defenders on the way to the rack. 

    An explosive, high-flying athlete, Selden can separate as a shooter on the perimeter or scorer in the lane. 

    At times, he can be lethal from outside, though consistency has kept his jumper from being considered a strength. Still, not many top prospects enter college as polished shooters, and Selden has already flashed plenty of promise. 

    Selden will be sliding right into Ben McLemore's spot at Kansas, where he could make a similar impact as the breakout freshman in the country.

Olivier Hanlan, Boston College, 6'4'', PG/SG

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    NBA Draft Ceiling: Late First Round in 2014, Mid-First Round in 2015

    NBA Draft Floor: Second Round

    Olivier Hanlan had some awfully impressive moments as a freshman at Boston College. He finished the year averaging 15.5 points on 39 percent shooting from three to go with 3.8 treys a game. 

    At 6'4'', he's a scoring combo guard who generates offense off the dribble. Hanlan is smooth with the ball. He glides around the court, weaving through traffic in one fluid motion. 

    As a scorer, he's got that ability to put points up in bunches. He dropped 41 on Georgia Tech late in the year on 14-of-18 shooting, including 8-of-10 from downtown. 

    With good vision, a high basketball IQ and a crafty handle, Hanlan is also capable of making plays for others. 

    His lack of explosiveness and strength might limit his upside and defensive potential, but Hanlan is still an intriguing backcourt weapon. 

    Look for Hanlan to return as one of the top scorers in the ACC. 

Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette, 6'4'', PG

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    NBA Draft Ceiling: Mid-to-Late First Round

    NBA Draft Floor: Second Round/Undrafted

    Elfrid Payton broke out as a sophomore last season, leading to an invite onto this summer's USA FIBA World Championship roster. 

    Payton held his own throughout the event, playing with some of the top athletes and prospects in the country. 

    At 6'4'', he's got good size and length for a point guard. He's also lightning quick off the dribble, with the ability to change speed and direction on the dime. 

    Payton is a breakdown point guard who can score in the lane and get to the rack. 

    But he's only around 170 pounds. Payton will have to add some muscle, as well as extend his shooting range, given he only hit 16 three-pointers all of last season. His mechanics look fine, but now entering his junior year, he'll have to show scouts they work. 

    If you're into flashy, young under-the-radar point guard prospects, pay attention to Payton this year. 

Alec Brown, Green Bay, 7'1'', C

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    NBA Draft Ceiling: Mid-to-Late First Round

    NBA Draft Floor: Second Round

    Alec Brown was an under-the-radar prospect to keep an eye on in 2012-13. But he just couldn't hold anyone's attention long enough. 

    His rebounding numbers fell from 8.2 a game to 6.0, and his blocked shots fell from 3.0 to 1.7. That's the type of regression that will knock you off the radar. 

    At 7'1'', Brown has tremendous size, though not much bulk (226 pounds). He's skinny, relying mostly on finesse in the post and mid-range. 

    Brown was invited as a counselor to this year's Adidas Nations camp, and his play revived some of that draft buzz. 

    He's really got a sweet touch from out to 18 feet away, which could be his moneymaker at the pro level as a backup big man. 

    If Brown can keep the momentum going and carry it into the year, he could be a sneaky candidate down the road to steal a first-round bid. 

    Getting his rebounding and shot-blocking numbers up should be a priority this season.

Chris Obekpa, St. John's, 6'9'', PF

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    NBA Draft Ceiling: Late First Round in 2014, Mid-First Round in 2015

    NBA Draft Floor: Second Round

    Chris Obekpa was a swatting machine last season, blocking shots at a historic rate. 

    Think about this: Nerlens Noel was leading the country in shot-blocking before tearing his ACL, averaging 4.4 swats in 32 minutes. 

    Obekpa was No. 2 in the country at 4.1 blocks a game, which he did in only 26 minutes a night.

    At 6'9'' with a monstrous 7'4'' wingspan, Obekpa has has great size, incredible length and excellent athleticism for a big man. 

    His timing around the rim is second to none—Obekpa's ability to quickly elevate off the ground and anticipate shots make him a dominant rim protector. 

    However, the rest of his game is rather raw, particularly on the offensive end. He's not much of a post threat or shooter, and though he's got the confidence to look for his shot, his conversion rates are poor. 

    At the end of the day, teams interested in Obekpa will be focusing on his shot-blocking prowess. He'll be viewed as a defensive specialist with long-term upside. 

    Whether Obekpa declares in 2014 or 2015, he'll do so with the first round in reach.  

Sam Dekker, Wisconsin, 6'8'', SF

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    NBA Draft Ceiling: Mid-to-Late First Round in 2014, Lottery in 2015

    NBA Draft Basement: Late First Round

    A super-skilled small forward with perfect 6'8'' size for the wing, Sam Dekker immediately flashed his NBA potential as a freshman at Wisconsin. 

    He only played 22 minutes a game, but he produced with lights-out efficiency. Dekker shot 47 percent from the floor and 39 percent from downtown on 1.4 three-point makes per game. An accurate shooter with range, Dekker has a strong feel for how to get open looks without using the dribble. 

    His jumper projects beautifully to the next level, where he's able to let it go with just an effortless flick of the wrist. 

    Dekker moves well off the ball and can finish on the move or pulling up off two feet.

    His obvious weaknesses center around his strength, athleticism and defensive outlook—the 220-pounder will have to hit the weight room if he wants to guard explosive NBA 3s. 

    But offensively, he's a mistake-free scorer who can help spread the floor. An improved one-on-one game could catapult him into lottery conversations by 2015. 

Fuquan Edwin, Seton Hall, 6'6'', SG/SF

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    NBA Draft Ceiling: Late First Round

    NBA Draft Floor: Second Round/Undrafted

    Fuquan Edwin has gradually improved since 2010 and now enters the year as a senior to watch on the NBA draft front. 

    He's seen his scoring average rise from 7.9 to 12.5 to 16.5 in three seasons as a Pirate. You can credit much of that to his improved outside stroke. Edwin's three-point percentage has risen from 31 percent as a freshman to 41 percent as a junior. 

    As a scorer, Edwin moves effectively off the ball, freeing himself up for catch-and-shoot jumpers or slashes to the rim. 

    Defensively, he's averaged at least 2.7 steals a game over the past two years. Edwin's quickness, length and athleticism allows him to jump passing lanes and force turnovers. 

    As a 2-guard, Edwin will have to work on his one-on-one game, but he's clearly an under-the-radar prospect with blowup potential this season.

Juvonte Reddic, VCU, 6'9'', PF

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    NBA Draft Ceiling: Mid-to-Late First Round

    NBA Draft Basement: Second Round

    Playing roughly the same amount of minutes as he did as a sophomore, Juvonte Reddic's production shot up his junior year. 

    Reddic raised his scoring average from 10.3 to 14.6, his rebounding average from 6.6 to 8.1, and his field-goal percentage from 51.4 to 56.9 percent. 

    He's got a solid physical profile at 6'9'' with devastating athleticism, though he could add some bulk to his upper body. 

    Still, Reddic has a soft touch at the rim and moves well around it. He's consistently able to separate using the jump hook or a fadeaway over the shoulder in the paint. 

    This past year, Reddic flashed some promise as a mid-range shooter and knocked down 70 percent of his free-throw attempts. 

    With the size, athleticism and feel within 15 feet, Reddic remains a power forward prospect to watch his senior year at VCU. 

Cory Jefferson, Baylor, 6'9'', PF

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    NBA Draft Ceiling: Late First Round

    NBA Draft Floor: Second Round

    Cory Jefferson came on strong late last season, particularly when nobody was paying attention to the NIT. 

    He averaged 21 points on over 70 percent shooting from the floor during Baylor's NIT championship run. Jefferson cleaned up his post game, scoring over both shoulders from the low block or elbows. He also knocked down a few mid-range jumpers. 

    And with a strong frame, long arms and powerful athleticism, Jefferson can be an automatic finisher at the rim.

    Becoming a more dominant rebounder might increase his appeal to scouts, but it's clear his offensive game is on the rise. 

    He's got the physical tools to play at the NBA level, and it appears his skill set is finally catching up. Expect a big year from Jefferson in the Big 12. 

     

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