It is not as publicized or popular as the NFL Combine but the NBA Combine in Chicago is just as important in the draft process. It officially got underway on Thursday and will last through the weekend eyeing three components: interviews with teams, drills and medical evaluations. It gives a solid idea of the players who will be drafted later this summer considering since 2009 it has provided 85.4% of the picks in the draft.
There are three players connected to Arizona who will be present. The lone member from Arizona State and lone player who played high school basketball in Arizona is Carrick Felix.
Felix is coming off a senior season that I think exceeded most expectations. Everyone knew he was going to be vital to the team as the sidekick to Jahii Carson, but I don’t think many other than him expected him to put up the numbers that he did. He averaged 14.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game including 13 double-doubles and nine games scoring 20 or more points.
According to NBAdraftinsider.com, Felix’s strengths are his athleticism, his length and his leaping ability. They say his weaknesses are outside shooting, ball-handling and say overall he is limited offensively. I think that scouts might find his outside shooting very underrated as he shot just under 38% from three last season.
I also think scouts and general managers will be very impressed with the way Felix carries himself. From my experience in covering him, he is a very respectful guy and a great talker. His high character and upside will present little risk for a NBA team. I see him being drafted in the middle of the second round.
The first of two Arizona Wildcats present at the combine is Solomon Hill who I think is poised to blow away all the people in Chicago. He is coming off a fantastic season leading the Wildcats to the sweet sixteen in his senior year. Hill got better and better each season in every facet of his game and got himself into better and better shape in the process. He averaged 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists last year.
The thing I always said about Hill is once he realizes that there isn’t anyone on the floor that can guard him, then no one can guard him. That was seen many times last season. One knock on him is that he is too passive of a player on offense but then it is contradicted that he has great court-vision. My biggest thing was seeing him turn into a player that didn’t have the ball much in crunch time to a guy along with Mark Lyons that held the ball for a majority of the time down the stretch of close games. His outside shooting has also improved tremendously.
Like Felix, Hill is also a great talker and a very bright basketball player from what I have seen from him in person. He too will impress general managers and scouts based on the things he has to say.
I think Solomon Hill is a late first round talent but think he will end up being drafted early to mid-second round.
Finally, the second Wildcat is Grant Jarrett. He surprised everyone when he announced he was going to leave Tucson and enter the draft after his freshman season. Of the three mentioned, I think Jarrett has the most to prove on this list. His ability to shoot from the outside so well for his size will be attractive to onlookers this weekend but his body of work in the post whether rebounding, scoring or defending will be what will be the most scrutinized. He averaged 5.2 points and 3.6 rebounds off the bench for the most part last season.
Jarrett has great size and length and also I think has a very strong basketball IQ. But he is still very raw and his strength and inconsistencies are seen as his biggest weaknesses according to NBAdraftinsider.com.
I worry if Jarrett is not drafted, it will be very hard for him to make an NBA roster. He could join a team for summer league play and try to earn a spot that route but in doing so, he will be going up against players who have spent time as a pro in either the NBA Developmental League or oversees.
I think he does get drafted though based on upside in the ladder stages of the second round.