Under-the-Radar 2022 NBA Draft Prospects in Men's College Basketball

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystJanuary 12, 2022

Under-the-Radar 2022 NBA Draft Prospects in Men's College Basketball

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    Fresno State's Orlando Robinson
    Fresno State's Orlando RobinsonLoren Orr/Getty Images

    Everyone knows about future NBA draft lottery picks Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith. We can't watch a Duke, Gonzaga or Auburn game on one of the ESPN networks without being subjected to a lengthy discussion about their potential to be the No. 1 overall pick.

    But who are the draft prospects in men's college basketball flying below the national radar, playing either on a mid-major team or a high-major squad with minimal hope of reaching the NCAA tournament? 

    In coming up with this list, I utilized the consensus 2022 big board from RookieScale.com, which combines mock drafts and big boards from more than a dozen different sites into one top 100 list. There's no indication of when it was last updated; however, Wisconsin's Johnny Davis is in the top 10, so it has certainly been refreshed at some point in the past two months.

    Anyone in the top 25 on that consensus big board doesn't count as under the radarthough you could certainly argue that Milwaukee's Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Nebraska's Bryce McGowens aren't getting the national attention that their talent deserves. Beyond that, anyone playing for an unranked team is fair game.

    That doesn't mean we're highlighting every player in the Nos. 26-100 range on an unranked team. That list would be way too long, plus there are a few guys outside the consensus top 100 we need to discuss. But that was our starting point.

    Players are listed in alphabetical order by last name. Unless otherwise noted, statistics are current through the start of play on Tuesday, Jan. 11.  

Max Abmas, Oral Roberts

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Consensus Big Board Rank: 54

    In leading No. 15 seed Oral Roberts to the Sweet 16 last year, Max Abmas did a mighty fine impression of 2008 Steph Curry. He played every minute and scored at least 25 points in each game during that run while shooting 10-of-25 from three-point range and averaging nearly five assists.

    Considering he led the nation in scoring last season, you would think more people would have known about him prior to mid-March. However, most of the world didn't even know how to pronounce his last name (ACE-miss) until he was guiding the Golden Eagles to upsets of Ohio State and Florida.

    Abmas opted to return to Oral Roberts for another season, and despite losing his best teammate from last year (Kevin Obanor) as a transfer to Texas Tech, not much has changed. The 6'0" combo guard is comfortably in the top five in the nation in scoring average, draining 41.5 percent of his nearly 10 three-point attempts per game.

    If he were just a few inches taller or a little more impactful on the defensive end, Abmas would probably be a consensus first-round pick right now. As is, he's probably going to fall into some team's lap in the second round and make an immediate impact as a long-range shooter off the bench.

Jamaree Bouyea, San Francisco

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    Young Kwak/Associated Press

    Consensus Big Board Rank: Not Ranked

    For San Francisco's Jamaree Bouyea, the big question is consistency. There are nights in which he looks like a guy you could legitimately plug into an NBA starting lineup right away, and there are nights in which he doesn't even look good enough to start in the WCC.

    USF played six games in December. Between the first two and the last two, Bouyea averaged 23.8 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 18-of-27 (66.7 percent) from three-point range. But in the middle two games, he had a combined total of 11 points on 5-of-25 shooting with four rebounds and eight turnovers.

    He also struggled in non-December games against Davidson, UAB and Loyola-Chicago, resulting in a ghastly 73.1 O-rating in five games against Tier A+B competition, per KenPom.

    All the same, his season averages are great, and he's making a major impact on the defensive end of the floor with 1.6 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. (How often do you see a 6'2" point guard average a block per game?)

    Assuming already postponed games are able to be rescheduled, Bouyea will get at least six more chances against Gonzaga, BYU and Saint Mary'splus WCC tournament and NCAA tournament games—to prove that he can play well against quality competition. If he passes that test, there's a good chance that some franchise will at least take an undrafted free-agent flier on this veteran Don. 

Jordan Hall, Saint Joseph's

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Consensus Big Board Rank: 64

    Saint Joseph's is not having a great year, to put it lightly. The Hawks are 7-6 overall and have lost by at least 15 points in each of their three games against NCAA tournament-level competition. So if you haven't even heard of Jordan Hall until this moment, you're surely not alone.

    You're going to want to familiarize yourself with this 6'7" triple-double threat, though, because Hall could be a star at the next level before much longer.

    Hall is averaging 16.4 points, 6.5 assists and 6.5 rebounds per game, which puts him on pace to join a short list of just six players to average at least 16, six and six for a season in the past three decades.

    In the season-opening win over Maryland-Eastern Shore, he went for 11 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds. In back-to-back wins over Penn and Temple in mid-December, he had a combined line of 59 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists while shooting 12-of-17 from downtown.

    As is the case for Jamaree Bouyea, it'd be nice to see him do this against better foes. Hall had 22 points (on 20 shots) in the blowout loss to Villanova, but with just one rebound and six turnovers. In the November loss to USC, he only scored two points on 12 shots. And in A-10 play, there simply won't be any opportunities to shine against top-tier competition.

    But if I had to bet on one player to go flying up big boards after the draft combine, it's Hall. 

Harrison Ingram, Stanford

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Consensus Big Board Rank: 28

    Harrison Ingram is a 5-star recruit playing at a major-conference school and projected as a possible first-round draft pick. However, Stanford has made the NCAA tournament just once since 2008 and doesn't appear to have much hope of breaking that drought this year. As such, it seems fair to say he's under the radar, at least as far as college basketball viewership is concerned.

    Much like Jordan Hall, Ingram is one of those coveted do-it-all guys who can fit into basically any offense. His numbers aren't as gaudy as Hall's, but a 6'8" freshman averaging 12.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game alongside a 31.0 percent three-point stroke is nothing to sneeze at.

    One of the reasons he's flying below the radar is that he hadn't had a sensational performance prior to Tuesday's win over AP No. 5 USC. He did have 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a win over Oregon, but that was as good as it got through the first 12 games. His season high was 19 points.

    Against the previously undefeated Trojans, though, Ingram went off for 21 points, 10 rebounds and two assists without any turnovers. It was Stanford's first game in nearly three weeks, but the star Cardinal didn't look rusty in the slightest.

    And with Ingram, the draft stock is much more about potential and versatility than it is his current production. You probably don't want to rely on him as your primary point guard or primary center; however, he can play any position 1 through 5, and he's only going to grow more enticing as an NBA prospect if and when the deep ball starts falling with more regularity.

    Stanford is currently scheduled to play USC, Arizona and UCLA once each before the end of January. Major opportunities are in play for Ingram to stake his claim as a possible lottery pick.

Taevion Kinsey, Marshall

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Consensus Big Board Rank: 71

    If Taevion Kinsey does get drafted, he would become the first Marshall player selected since Hassan Whiteside in 2010 and just the fourth player from the Thundering Herd drafted in the past 35 years.

    If nothing else, Kinsey is well-conditioned. Marshall plays at the second-fastest adjusted tempo in the nation, yet Kinsey leads the nation in percentage of minutes played (against Division-I opponents).

    With all those reps, his efficiency isn't great. He has especially struggled from distance, making just 8-of-50 (16.0 percent) three-point attempts on the seasona massive drop-off from shooting 19-of-46 (41.3 percent) last year. But he still produces at a high level, averaging better than 19 points, five rebounds and three assists per game for a second consecutive season.

    Kinsey has also scored in double figures in 49 consecutive games dating back to January 2020 and had a seven-game streak with at least 21 points earlier this season. He kind of reminds me of former Butler star Roosevelt Jones, who wasn't a good shooter, but who always seemed to come up with a big bucket when needed.

    What position would Kinsey play at the next level, though? He's 6'5" with a career 30.5 percent three-point stroke and a career assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.41. Maybe he could catch on in a Jae'Sean Tate type of role.

Hyunjung Lee, Davidson

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Consensus Big Board Rank: 88

    It's a shame every conversation about Hyunjung Lee seems to start with "Well, he's not Steph Curry, but..." because that immediate disclaimer about Davidson's current star makes it seem like he doesn't deserve a shot in the NBA.

    That couldn't be further from the truth.

    In his three seasons with the Wildcats, Lee has shot 41.3 percent from three-point range, 62.4 percent inside the arc and 85.1 percent from the free-throw line. And this season, the 6'7" wing from South Korea has become a more assertive presence on the court, taking shots, drawing fouls and grabbing rebounds at a significantly higher rate than the previous two years.

    Lee already has four double-doubles this season, including a 32-point, 14-rebound gem in a road win over Charlotte. He also had 17 points with four triples in Davidson's marquee win over Alabama and has scored in double figures in every game this season.

    Defense is a big question mark at the next level, but that didn't stop Kyle Korver from scoring nearly 12,000 career points. Lee could have a long run in the NBA in a similar sharpshooting role given how proficient he has been in dribble handoffs and ball screens.

Kenneth Lofton Jr., Louisiana Tech

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    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    Consensus Big Board Rank: Not Ranked

    Kenneth Lofton Jr. is nowhere near the leaper or highlight-reel producer that Zion Williamson was at Duke, but listed at 6'7" and 275 pounds, Louisiana Tech's primary big man at least bears a physical resemblance to the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft.

    Lofton also has a similar ability to take over a game all by himself, averaging 16.7 points and 10.9 rebounds per game midway through his second season. And he has saved his best performances for the stiffest competition.

    In five games against KenPom Top 125 opponentsAlabama, LSU, NC State, Santa Clara and Western KentuckyLofton has averaged 22.8 points and 11.6 rebounds. Even though the Bulldogs were unable to win the game, of particular note was the 36 points (on 19 field-goal attempts), 17 rebounds and four assists he had against the Wolfpack.

    The big questions are conditioning and whether the lefty is tall enough to make an impact as an NBA center.

    Lofton only plays about 25 minutes per game, he's not a threat outside the paint (1-of-12 from three in his college career), and he's not much of a shot-blocker. But if the conditioning isn't an issue, maybe he could be a shorter Tristan Thompson or a less rim-protecting version of Isaiah Stewart.

Scotty Pippen Jr., Vanderbilt

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Consensus Big Board Rank: 82

    When Scotty Pippen Jr. committed to Vanderbilt, he was a 6'0", 160-pound, 3-star recruit. He has since grown three inches, put on 25 pounds and blossomed into one of the most unguardable lead guards in the country.

    Efficiency isn't exactly Pippen's strong suit, although that is arguably more a product of Vanderbilt's overall talent level than it is an indictment against him.

    Myles Stute is the only perimeter shooter opponents need to worry about, and at least until Minnesota transfer Liam Robbins is able to return from a stress fracture in his foot that has kept him out all season, the Commodores don't have anything close to a go-to post presence. As a result, it's all eyes on Pippen all the time, which means a lot of turnovers and contested shots.

    And yet, Pippen averages better than 18 points as a slasher who draws a lot of contact (6.4 free-throw attempts per game). He's also a solid on-ball defender who did show impressive court vision last season by averaging just under 5.0 assists per gameback when Vandy had big man Dylan Disu and a bunch of respectable three-point shooters.

    In Tuesday night's loss to Kentucky, Pippen shot 6-of-11 from three-point range and finished with 32 points, four assists and three steals in a game the Commodores never had any hope of winning.

    Like Jordan Hall, Pippen is the type of guy who could gain some serious ground in the draft combine. It should be fun to see what he can do alongside four other draft-caliber teammates.

Orlando Robinson, Fresno State

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    Chris Gardner/Getty Images

    Consensus Big Board Rank: Not Ranked

    How is it possible that NBA scouts aren't in love with Orlando Robinson?

    Fresno State's 7'0" stretch 5 entered Tuesday averaging 18.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 34.1 percent from three-point range and 81.1 percent from the free-throw line. (He then put up 33 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in a win over San Jose State to improve upon most of those numbers.)

    He has a dream combination of size, length, range and versatility, but no one seems to have noticed.

    "Big O" went through the draft process this past summer before opting to return for another season of college hoops, and he has taken a big step forward on both ends of the floor. He has scored at least 15 points in all but one game thus far, and he has pulled down at least five rebounds in each contest. Robinson also has half a dozen games with at least three blocks and has made a combined total of seven triples in his last four games.

    If he could just bring up the three-point percentage a bit, his numbers would be darn near identical to what Frank Kaminsky did in 2014-15 en route to the Wooden Award: 18.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.5 blocks, 0.8 steals, 41.6 percent from three, 78.0 percent from the free-throw line.

    While I fully appreciate that Kaminsky did his work against a much tougher schedule, it's hard to believe Robinson isn't at least a draft-worthy prospect at this point. Maybe big games later this season against Utah State's Justin Bean and/or Colorado State's David Roddy will be enough to put people on notice.