A pair of Florida Gators basketball players will be sticking close to their televisions on Thursday as they hope to hear their names called during the two-round 2015 NBA Draft, which will emanate live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn beginning at 7 p.m.
Whether either guard Michael Frazier II or forward/center Chris Walker actually get drafted is another story altogether.
While a total of 35 former Gators have been selected in the history of the event, Florida has only had one first-round pick (Bradley Beal, No. 3 overall, 2012) in the last six drafts after having five in a four-year span from 2005-08.
In fact, 2014 marked the first time since 2010 that UF did not have a player picked in the two-round draft, snapping a three-year streak.
Depending which analyst one speaks with, that drought could continue either continue for the Gators or end abruptly with Frazier and Walker both potentially being second-round selections on Thursday.
OnlyGators.com sat down with Ryan Blake, the NBA’s director of scouting, to get his evaluations of Frazier and Walker ahead of Thursday night’s event.
Guard Michael Frazier II: “First off, he’s got great range though his three-point percentage fell last year. His a spot-up shooter, mid-range guy, works hard on both ends. I think he needs more dimensions in his game; he needs to prove that he can do more than just shoot. It’s not always the best 60 players that get drafted. Of course, you’re going to have the international guys that are going to be stashed, so you always have to take that into account. Regardless, he will be coveted whether as a draft pick or undrafted free agent earning a post in the Summer League.
“He’s got to be a guy that wants to take every opportunity he can to make it with a team. He may be in the NBA D-League next year unless he decides to go overseas, or he may get the opportunity to prove to a team that he’s their guy for a particular role.
“There are other guards out there that also shoot the ball well that may be more versatile, so Frazier’s going to have to battle for a spot whether he gets drafted or signed after the fact. NBA teams have to say, ‘OK, he shoots the ball well. Is he a better defender than this guy? Can he run the point? Can he pass the ball? Is he able to run the court?'”
Projection: Second round to undrafted
Forward/center Chris Walker: “He’s the perfect example of someone who needs to spend time in the D-League and develop his game and prove it. He hasn’t proven anything yet. He’s proven that he can play about 15 minutes per game as an athlete, but there’s a lot of athletic bigs out there. He has to invest in his game. I don’t think in the draft there’s going to be a team that says, ‘OK, we’re going to spend a number of years doing this and give you a bunch of money.’ You have to prove it. There are a lot of players already in the D-League that are coveted by NBA teams but need the time to develop and fine-tune their game in an NBA system. If his ultimate goal is to do that, that’s where he should be. If he just wants to make money, he can try and get that overseas.
“He has a lot to prove, a lot to develop, a lot to work on, but he has upside, too. If he can avoid having that immediate gratification syndrome, he should stay stateside. The game is 75 percent mental; the game is played between the ears. He’s had a year and a half to try and prove that he has that mental part of his game. He will have the opportunity to do that in the D-League if he wants it, to prove himself. Players that really want to work to get their game right, they’ll do that in the D-League. Invest in your game and you will have the opportunity.
“Look at Hassan Whiteside (with Miami) and Langston Galloway (with New York). Even Amare Stoudamire, he was a high school player who was a man among boys so he did not play hard all the time. What was the reason? We don’t know. It wasn’t until the summer after he was drafted that he got in with the Phoenix crew and they explained, ‘Look, you can be this good.’ And he did it. He did it along with the Phoenix Suns. That was a great example of investment. Walker has to go into his opportunity and prove that he has that passion both mentally and athletically.”
And in case you are curious what ESPN‘s Jay Bilas had to say, here you go:
Frazier: “He’s one of the better shooters in the draft. I’ve got him slotted around No. 40 on my best-available list. Michael’s got size and a high release on his shot, and he’s a very good shooter. I’m not sure I would classify him as a ‘great’ shooter, but he’s a good shooter. As a second-rounder, there are other guys who are probably better overall players, but he’s got a specialist-type skill and I put him higher than some other guys because of that.”
Walker: “It’s pretty clear he has a long way to go in knowing how to play. He is behind [in the developmental process]. I would be very surprised if he was drafted. He fits the suit body-wise but has not proven he has the skill level. He’s still a project. He’s somebody you could see coming in as a free agent, but I would be surprised if he’s drafted.”