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2021 Draft Position Preview: Second Rounders

Breaking Down Some Possible Second Rounders as the Draft Nears
by Joe Gabriele Beat Writer

2021 Draft Position Preview: Second Rounders

Breaking Down Some Possible Second Rounders as the Draft Nears

As of now, with just a few days remaining before the 2021 NBA Draft, the Wine & Gold have just a single selection. It’s a damn good selection – No. 3 overall – but if nothing changes, that’ll be their only choice.

But as we’ve pointed out repeatedly, crazy things can happen on Draft night, and teams will move all over the board on Thursday night. The Cavaliers could very well jump back into the First or Second Round as the evening progresses.

Cleveland has had plenty of luck over the years in the Second Round – from Mark Price to Hot Rod Williams to Daniel Gibson to Anderson Varejao. And neither Price nor Varejao were originally drafted by the Cavs.

With college basketball completing its 2020-21 season right through Big Dance, some of the following players got some much-needed exposure in the hopes of fulfilling their hoops dreams. And those big dreams don’t have to end there. Nikola Jokic – the 41st overall pick in 2014 – was this season’s MVP. Khris Middleton – selected with the 39th pick in 2012 – just helped guide the Bucks to their first NBA title in 50 years.

The league has been littered with success stories from Second Rounders. And perhaps some of the following prospects – if they’re selected once Mark Tatum begins announcing picks – will one day join them.

Left to Right: Quentin Grimes, JT Thor, Luka Garza, Jericho Sims, Jason Preston
Photo by Andy Lyons via NBAE/Getty Images

LUKA GARZA6-11, 265 – Born: December 27, 1998 – (Washington, DC) – College: Iowa – Possibly the most decorated player in college hoops coming into this year’s Draft, Garza was last year’s Sporting News Player of the Year, the first repeat winner since Michael Jordan, was twice named Big Ten Player of the Year and consensus First Team All-American and was named College Player of the Year last season; as a senior, averaged 24.1 points and 8.7 boards per; Iowa’s all-time leading scorer, his uniform No. 55 was retired this past year; had seven games of at least 30 points and a 41-point explosion in the second game of the year against Southern, going 14-of-15 from the floor to go with nine boards; offensively-gifted player who can score from anywhere in the halfcourt, is crafty enough to work around opponents and strong enough to go through them; enters the league at 22 years old; prolific rebounder, uses his massive size – 6-11, 265 – to his advantage on both ends of the floor, despite lacking the burst and mobility of today’s NBA big men; won’t physically dominate at the pro level, but could be an outstanding change-of-pace big off some squad’s bench.

QUENTIN GRIMES6-5, 210 – Born: May 8, 2000 – (Woodlands, TX) – College: Houston – One of the catalysts to Houston’s excellent regular season and Tournament run to the Final Four; began his career with Kansas; a big shooting guard – 6-5, 210 with a 6-8 wingspan who’ll make his money at the next level from beyond the arc; was Third Team All-American and AAC’s co-Player of the Year in 2021; one of the Draft’s older prospects, will turn 22 next May; solid but not spectacular defender; very dangerous in transition; shot over 40 percent from long-range as a junior, took 8.3 attempts per game; a true shooting guard, doesn’t have the handle to play lead guard at the next level; had 13 games of at least 20 points last season, including a 33-point outburst against Western Kentucky, drilling eight triples in the process; Houston was 29-1 last year in games in which he hit multiple three-pointers; outstanding shooting mechanics; half-brother is a defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks; could be a solid 3-and-D guy off the bench at the pro level.

JASON PRESTON6-4, 185 – Born: August 10, 1998 – (Orlando, FL) – College: Ohio – One of the coolest stories in this year’s Draft, Preston averaged two points per game in two years of high school ball, applied to Central Florida as a regular student and, after a growth spurt, posted his highlights on Twitter and received multiple scholarship offers, including the one to Ohio U; led the MAC and was second in the nation in assists last year; led the Bobcats to the NCAA Tournament after being named MVP of the MAC Tourney; went off for 31pts, 8asst, 6reb and 0 turnovers against 8th-ranked Illinois, finished with 11pts, 13reb and 8asst in OU’s shocking upset of Virginia in this year’s Big Dance; confidence from beyond the arc grew in three years at OU; a fluid athlete with better explosion than expected, posting a 38” vertical at the combine; older prospect, will be 22 in August; instinctive player with tremendous basketball IQ, solid decision-maker; can make any pass in the halfcourt or transition; excellent rebounder despite thin frame; would be a solid addition to any team’s second unit.

JERICHO SIMS6-10, 250 – Born: October 20, 1998 – (Minneapolis, MN) – College: Texas – Along with Kai Jones at Texas, formed one of the most imposing front lines in college hoops; physically imposing frame – a powerful 6-10, 250 with an incredible 7-3 wingspan; match that frame with his insane athleticism – he turned in a 44.5” max vert at the NBA Combine, second-highest in the event’s history; two brothers played D-I hoops and brother played football for Minnesota; played in 119 games in four-year career in Austin; shot nearly 70 percent (69.6) for his career at Texas; will turn 23 this October; great upper body strength – efficient on the boards and in the post; has the athleticism to switch effectively on the perimeter; tough, solid rim-protector; started and finished senior season strong: doubled-up in four of his first five games this year and finished with a career-high 21 points and season-best 14 boards against Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Tourney’s title game; shot just 52 percent from the stripe at Texas, didn’t crack 60 percent in any season; not a prolific scorer, but knows his role as a banger on both ends.

JT THOR6-10, 205 – Born: August 26, 2002 – (Omaha, NE) – College: Auburn – Intriguing lefty from with Auburn, started all 27 games for the Tigers and notched double-figure scoring in 10 of his last 15 appearances; excellent length with over a 7-2 wingspan and 9-2 standing reach; high IQ player with tremendous motor; wowed scouts at pre-Draft Camp in Chicago; excels in the open floor; has the creativity of a guard; can struggle against pressure; offensively, his outside shot needs work – shot under 30 percent from deep – but has the natural stroke to improve; not a strong ballhandler and can be turnover prone; son of Sudanese immigrants, Thor grew up in Anchorage, AK before moving to West Virginia at 14; strong help defender; outstanding shot-blocker – rejected at least one attempt in 17 of his last 22 games and had 12 outings with at least with two swats; still a work in progress, Thor has all the measurables that scouts love, but will need to turn it into consistent production at the pro level.


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