Unfortunately I couldn’t be on ESPN’s pre-NBA Draft Combine teleconference with Fran Fraschilla and Chad Ford today because I was busy interviewing a Hokies baseball player at the time, but when Fraschilla was asked about potential draft sleepers, he brought up Erick Green of the Hokies. Here is what Fraschilla said, according to the ESPN transcript of the call. Here is the transcript of the “sleepers” question and what Fraschilla and Ford said in response, with the Erick Green stuff at the very end.
Q. Fran, can you maybe go over some of the top prospects who are foreign? Then, Chad, can you maybe talk about who you see as a sleeper in this draft?
FRASCHILLA: The only reason I chuckled is because you’re covering the Trail Blazers, so half your team this year are guys that Chad and I have seen basically grow up. I would say it’s a good year for foreign players to be in this draft. So what looked like early on to be a quiet year for international guys, I could look at my list right now and see the potential for nine different players going in the first round.
So I think it’s a good draft. Chad has alluded to a couple of guys already. I’ve studied a lot of tape of Dario Saric who has been on the scene forever. There are things that really concern me about him, but he’s certainly a talented player.
A guy that played really well in Portland – I don’t know if you were at the Hoop Summit, but he dominated the high school guards – was the German, Dennis Schroeder who has an awful lot of Rondo’s characteristics including the speed and the 6’7″ wing span. He’s a guy that’s high on my list. A kid that Chad and I have seen for a long time that’s all of a sudden started to turn the corner. Lucas Nogueira from Brazil who is starting to play better and better in the ACB in Spain.
There is another guy I’m starting to become high on again, a kid that’s very interesting that Chad can fill in the blanks on, Giannis Adetokoubo, a 6’9″, Kevin Durant built like guy who can handle the ball. He’s very, very raw. He’s played basically high school basketball this year in a very poor Greek league. Some people have compared him to Nic Batum, that’s not fair, because he dribbles the ball better than Nic, but he’s nowhere near as experienced.
Another kid who we’ve seen for a couple years that’s probably the most mature and most ready player, a guy that Chad mentioned, Sergey Karasev from Russia that’s already played in the Olympics, already playing at a high level, has a skill that really translates in his ability to shoot the ball and also has a great feel for the game.
I see nine guys, and I also think this is a year where you can draft some of these guys and leave them right where they are in Europe and let them marinate a little bit more and not have to add them to your roster.
FORD: I agree with everything Fran said on the international side. As far as sleepers go, some of them are moving up the draft boards. In Portland as well, you had Damian Lillard a guy out of Weber State who started his senior season not ranked in the top 30 by virtually every team in the league, wins Rookie of the Year last year. To me, that is the definition of a sleeper.
If you can go from one year where you weren’t ranked in the top 30 to being the Rookie of the Year in the NBA, that is a pretty impressive leap.
I think Kentavious Caldwell Pope is maybe one of those guys out of Georgia that can really stroke the basketball. An elite athlete that had no help at all on that Georgia team, which meant he took a lot of bad shots, and his shooting percentage may be off what he really is as far as a shooter and a scorer because of the situation that he was in. I think Shane Larkin may be a guy who will look back on and look at Miami’s run this year and start to attribute a lot of that to the play of Larkin at point guard.
He surprised a lot of people this year with how well Miami played. I think a lot of that had to do with their point guard, and to me, he’s still got a lot of upside there. I think Reggie Bullock out of North Carolina is a guy that got lost in the shuffle a little bit and has great size and can really shoot the basketball. I think he can really defend.
I think he got lost in the shuffle a little bit on the disappointing North Carolina team this year. But often I felt like he was the best player on the court. Then if you want some super sleepers, I think Mike Muscala at Bucknell is a 6’11″ guy that put up great numbers this year, but played at Bucknell. He’s a guy that could potentially help himself the most at this combine if he comes in and really shows that he belongs with the other bigs there. Teams are always interested in bigs.
Then a guy that’s not even invited to the combine, D.J. Stephens out of Memphis. I think he is the best athlete in the draft. He’s the most explosive player, and I think he has one of the best motors of anybody in the draft. He’s completely unskilled offensively.
But if you’re talking about rotation players and talking about a guy who could come in off the bench; defend multiple players, be physical, athletic, block shots, grab steals, throw himself all over the floor for 15, 20 minutes a night and energize a team and a crowd, that, to me, could be D.J. Stephens.
FRASCHILLA: I would just add one, what I would call “hide in plain sight sleeper”, and that is a kid I’ve studied and seen in person this year who actually dominated the ACC on a bad team, and that is Erick Green of Virginia Tech. He not only led the country in scoring, but he’s a highly efficient player. He is a kid that makes tough shots. He’s a willing passer, 67% at the rim, 40% from three, nearly 50% from two. And the only major question mark I could see with him is his narrow frame. Defensively he must improve.
But when we talk about all these good point guards, and again, we’re only talking about guys that hopefully will be rotation guys, maybe a few starters. But to me, Erick Green is a guy that dominated in the ACC the last couple years, and the beauty of Erick Green is he averaged two points a game as a freshman.