2020 NBA Draft: The top six seniors who could be second-round steals
A look at six seniors who could wind up being second-round steals in the 2020 draft
- by Kyle Boone
- Mar 31, 2020 at 2:30 pm ET • 4 min read
College basketball’s season ended without warning. Every major conference tournament was left undecided, the field of 68 undetermined, March Madness entirely unplayed.
And what’s worse, seniors on their last go-round can’t make that time up. The NCAA officially announced Monday that seniors would not be granted extra eligibility despite concerns over the coranavirus causing the season to end before expected. So the college careers are over for hundreds of players. Playing careers, too.
But for some seniors talented enough, this isn’t the end of the line. Many will go on to play overseas. Many will scrap for an NBA roster in the states, toggling between the G League and the NBA, scrapping on two-way deals. A select few, though, will find a spot in the NBA and stick.
Here are six seniors who have a legitimate shot to do just that.
1. Grant Riller, Charleston
Big Board rank: No. 39
Selling point: Shot-making
In four seasons at Charleston, Riller grew from an unheralded two-star recruit into a two-time All-CAA performer, averaging 18.7 points per game and hitting 35.6% of his 3-pointers. And in his last season: 21.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game shooting 36.2% from 3-point range.
Plain and simple: Riller’s a dynamic shot-maker who brings lethality as a pull-up and spot-up shooter. He also adds some value as a ball-handler and has executed well in the pick-and-roll/pick-and-pop style Charleston runs, making smart reads to dive to the hole, dish it off or pull up. He’s not an A-level passer, and the reads he makes are often elementary. But the way he can score it presents some upside for teams looking to add value late in the first round or early in the second. I think he could be getting some consideration from teams as early as No. 25 and as late as No. 40 in this year’s draft.
2. Payton Pritchard, Oregon
Big Board rank: No. 46
Selling points: Shot-making, reliable backup ball-handler
March Madness was preparing to lift Pritchard onto a new level of notoriety this year. After a stellar senior year, he managed to average 27.5 points per game in Oregon’s final four games of the season, rounding into form of a star capable of taking a team deep in the tourney. Alas.
Pritchard will get his moment, though. Only once in his career did he shoot below 35% from 3-point range, and he steadily improved as a ball-handler and scorer throughout his time in Eugene — to the point that he was unarguably a top-five player this past season in college hoops. His progression has been real, and it’s been spectacular. I think his steady hand on offense and tough-shot-making, much like Riller, will earn him some quality NBA minutes in the not-too-distant future.
3. Desmond Bane, TCU
Big Board rank: No. 51
Selling point: 3-point shooting
The bet on Bane is that his 3-point stroke and strong, sturdy frame will translate. Which is hardly a bet at all. A 6-foot-6, 215 pound forward, Bane has shot 43.3% from 3 during his four-year career at TCU, and twice shot 44% from distance or better during a single season. And last season, with the pressure of a No. 1 option for TCU, he averaged 16.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while making 44.2% from deep. He should be able to fit into an off-ball role seamlessly at the next level after diversifying his game in college, and rating in the 91st percentile as a spot-up shooter last season should bode well for that projection.
4. Killian Tillie, Gonzaga
Big Board rank: No. 55
Selling points: Skill level, 3-point shooting
If not for nagging injuries the last two seasons, Tillie would likely be pushing for a spot in the first round. He’s a 6-10 forward who can knock down 3-pointers at a high level and has the basketball smarts of a player with 100+ games in his rearview mirror. The only legitimate obstacle sitting between him and a top-30 selection is the concerning medicals, which have hampered him from truly becoming a star.
5. Kristian Doolittle, Oklahoma
Big Board rank: No. 74
Selling point: 3-and-D potential
After several seasons of serving in a complementary role — essentially as a 3-and-D player without the 3 — Doolittle took a big step forward as a senior at OU. He averaged 15.8 points and 8.9 rebounds while hitting 37.5% from 3-point range, all on good volume. Now that the shot has come around and his handles have tightened a bit, there’s a real chance he emerges as a player teams target late in the second round. He’s got long, wiry arms, a 6-7 frame, and role player potential worth gambling on given his continued upwards trajectory in development as a scorer.
6. Mamadi Diakite, Virginia
Big Board rank: NR
Selling point: Shot-making
Virginia’s championship march last spring was quietly keyed by the unsung rise of Mamadi Diakite , who started playing with more force, blocking more shots, making more impact offensively. Then he sustained it as a senior by nearly doubling his points per game while serving as the final line of defense for Virginia’s top-rated defense. And all the while, he showed some flashes of being capable of stretching defenses with a developing 3-point shot. Diakite’s worth a gamble, perhaps as a second-round flier. If the 3-point shot continues to fall like it did his final season, he could be a real steal given his value elsewhere on the floor.
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