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2021-22 Preseason Profile: Evan Mobley

Big Man on Campus

Life has probably moved quickly for Evan Mobley since being taken with the No. 3 overall pick in July. But on the other end of this weekend, the rubber’s about to hit the road.

The Cavaliers highest draft pick of the post-LeBron Era, Mobley is the centerpiece of three seven-footers that weren’t on the roster on opening night last year. The Wine & Gold went big this offseason, and all eyes will be on the 20-year-old southern Californian when Camp tips off on Monday.

Mobley was a two-way star at center in a single season at USC, but he’ll be at the power forward spot in Cleveland, starting alongside Jarrett Allen in the middle. No matter what position he’s listed at, the lithe big man can do a little bit of everything – something he showed in a tantalizing four-game run in Vegas.

Mobley looked sharp at times and raw at others during his Summer League run. Mostly, he looked like a rookie who was unsure about when to assert himself. He netted double-figure scoring in his first two appearances – leading Cleveland with three blocks to go with 12 points against Houston and finishing with a game-high six assists against Orlando two nights later – averaging 11.3 points and 7.7 boards in three games overall.

Like most current high draft picks, the sample size isn’t huge. But Mobley proved all he needed to in his single season with the Trojans, and he comes into the Association as a “unicorn” – a true seven-footer (with a 7-4 wingspan) who can do it all on both ends.

Coach J.B. Bickerstaff officially gets his hands on the Cavaliers new toy next week. And Mobley’s life will continue to accelerate – with the preseason tipping off 11 days after Camp opens and the regular season opening up in Memphis two weeks later. And he’s still got a rookie wall to look forward to.

But first things first. Let’s let the young man enjoy his last weekend before starting his first job out of college. He’s got a long career ahead.

Looking Back

After his freshman season at USC, Mobley was named Pac-12 Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year – joining Anthony Davis (2012) as the only other player to have accomplished that feat in a major conference.

Mobley – who’s brother Isaiah will return for his junior year at Southern Cal next season – was the Pac-12’s top rebounder (8.7rpg) and shot-blocker (3.0bpg) while averaging 16.8ppg, sixth-best mark in the conference.

He can shoot over smaller defenders, is far too quick for clunkier big men and has a varied arsenal of shots – from a smooth mid-range jumper to jump-hooks over both shoulders.

He’s still a work in progress from beyond the arc, hitting just 12 three-pointers on 40 attempts, but overall, Mobley shot nearly 58 percent from the floor and 70 percent from the line.

In 33 collegiate games, Mobley notched double-figure scoring in all but two – turning in 10 games of 20-points plus. He also tallied 12 double-doubles – including a pair in the NCAA Tournament, where he led the Trojans to the Elite 8 before falling to Gonzaga.

Mobley grabbed double-digit boards in a dozen games, nine of those contests with at least four off the offensive glass.

On the defensive end, Mobley was a complete nightmare for Pac-12 foes – including at least two shots in 24 of his 33 appearances. He posted four games with four blocks, three games with five (including back-to-back contests in the Pac-12 Tourney) and three games with six.

By the Numbers

95 … Shots that Evan Mobley swatted in 33 games last year with USC – good for the second-best mark in the nation.

The Cavaliers blocked shot leader from last year was Jarrett Allen, who rejected 71 shots in 51 games. Two years ago, the Wine and Gold blocked 211 shots as a team. The year before that it was 195.

Looking Ahead

The Cavaliers new “unicorn” just might be the centerpiece of the team’s current rebuild.

Cleveland tabbed guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland in back-to-back Drafts and then went with small forward Isaac Okoro last year. Mobley is the highest pick since Andrew Wiggins went No. 1 overall back in 2014.

The Cavs frontline is bigger – and younger – than it was on opening day last year. Mobley potentially gives the Wine and Gold a rim-protector they haven’t had in many years – even during their four-year run to the Finals.

Mobley had an historic one-year run at Southern Cal. Now it’s his chance to face the big boys, beginning early next month in Chicago.

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