Countdown to the Draft: 60 Prospects in 30 Days by JNixon (46&45)
46: Trevor Mbakwe, 6’8 236, PF/C, Minnesota, rSr. (6 years)
The Trevor Mbakwe story is one that is very interesting and detailed. Mbakwe started his career at Marquette, were he received little time on a guard heavy roster and decided to transfer to a JUCO in Miami. After spending a season there, he transferred to Minnesota under Tubby Smith. But shortly after, he was suspended for the entire season for an assault charge that happened when he was in Miami for JUCO. After a 2 year absence from D-1 basketball, he returned in 2010-2011 and had a breakout Jr. campaign in his 1st Big 10 season were he averaged 14 ppg 10 rpg and a 1.5 bpg. Many expected him to dominate his rSr. Season and he was on his way, until he tore his ACL 7 games into the schedule. Considering all of his setbacks, the NCAA granted him a 6 year of eligibility and he had a solid season. Yeah…crazy. He is a prospect with a lot of stories to tell at combine interviews. 2nd Team All-Big 10 in 2010-2011. Physically, Mbakwe is a short, but powerfully built player. He stands 6’8, which is slightly short for a PF and very, very short for the C position he really plays like. But he has a very strong 236 lb frame and threw up 21 reps on the 185 lb bench press at the combine. He also has an outstanding 7’4 wingspan which allows him to play taller than he is. Kahwi Leonard-esque hand size. Athletically, Mbwake is pretty decent as well. The ACL injury zapped a bit of his explosiveness but he still has some left and will show it in spurts from time to time. A relatively good leaper. OK quickness and speed, but plays with enough energy to maximize it.
On offense, Mbakwe will never be more than a low level option scorer….Doesnt have a strong post game at all, but he can get garbage points effectively…Really good offensive rebounder, and makes his presence felt at the rim with strong finishes…Has the strength to finish through contact, and does a good job of getting shots up to the rim in these cases….Very active, hustles to spots to get shots…Added a jump hook during his time at Minnesota, which was reasonably effective given his length…Still will never be more than a garbageman scorer though….Bruiser…Has good hands…Not going to take anyone off the dribble…Shows minimal to no jump shot…Plays more like a C than a PF, which is a concern at his height….Would really benefit if he developed a 12-15 ft jumper, but given that he never did in 6 years of college basketball it appears unlikely that he will…Doesn’t have a soft shooting touch….Just shows a limit skill level overall, and gets by on his length, activity level and his strength and ability to finish
Defensively, Mbakwe has the length and strength to be adequate…He also works hard…Solid defensive glass guy, and has the strength and athleticism to pull down rebounds in traffic despite his lacking height…Moves his feet well in pick and roll defense too…Can be shot over as you would expect for a 6’8 frontline man, especially by taller matchups, but not quite as much as you’d expect…Sometimes is foul prone, but not too terribly bad
Mbakwe has a lot of skeletons in his closet and he’s short for a frontline guy, but he has the energy, length, strength and athleticism to be a backend rotation player for a team…He wont score much, and he isn’t a shot creator, but his effort is going to make it hard to overlook him…I think he will have a shot to be a 2nd round pick for a team that needs rebounding, energy and an extra body
45: Robert Covington, 6’8 209, PF/SF, Tennessee State, Sr.
At #46 we have a sleeper prospect in Robert Covington, a sleek combo forward from the Ohio Valley Conference. Doesn’t have much game tape, but his game is pretty easy to decipher and he is a 4-year player with a good bit of untapped potential due to him playing at a lower level than most of the prospects on my list. A 4-year starter. All-OVC Newcomer as a Fr, All-OVC 2nd Team as a Soph, OVC Co-MVP as a Jr., 2nd Team All-OVC as a Sr. Physically, Covington is a rail thin 209 lbs and will likely have to make a transition to the wing alot more at the next level. Needs to put on more weight and get stronger, but definitely has the frame to put on 20 lbs easily. He’s a 6’8 combo forward right now, but one with a great amount of length to allow him to play taller. Athletically, Covington is OK. He’s a bit high waisted and leggy, which limits his agility and quickness, but he has relatively good leaping skills and passable mobility. Wouldn’t be particularly quick as a wing, but has enough athleticism to be somewhat of a mismatch at PF depending on matchups. Has lost some his athleticism due to knee surgery during this past year, and will need to show that he can be healthy.
Right now, Covington is a prospect with one clear cut skill and a bunch of other skills that need polishing….The majority of his intrigue comes in the fact that he’s a good shooter with great height…..Doesnt have picture perfect form, but he shoots a high-released shot and has a quick release and a slight fade that makes his shots very tough to block…Was a very deadly shooter efficiency wise until his Sr. year, where he still was a good but relatively lackluster 37% from deep…Likes to spend most of his time of the perimeter…Has adequate enough athleticism to beat most bigger PF’s off the bounce…Not going to shake and bake off the dribble though, mostly is going to use his long strides to get to the rim off straight line slashes….Laterally will not be able to beat SF’s in the NBA…Has basic footwork, and mostly likes to use jump hooks at the rim…Not strong enough to bang with most NBA PF’s….Needs to improve his strength a lot to be as efficient as he was in his 1st 3 seasons at TSU in the NBA when he works inside the arc…Does not appear to have much toughness…Added pounds wouldn’t hurt at all….Must prove he is healed from injury and has his athleticism back, really struggled with nagging injuries as a Sr…..Struggled against quality competition
Defensively, he doesn’t really have a spot he can guard at the next level consistently….Too small for PF’s and too stiff for SF’s….Has enough length to contest and get his share of blocks and steals….A bit raw in his fundamentals though, as most that play at the level of competition he does often do…Not strong enough to bang down low consistently, but is a versatile enough defender to be a threat hedging picks….Will give you decent rebounding….Should compete harder
Covington is a weird prospect…He’s one of the best shooters from the PF spot in this draft, but is he a PF?....Doesnt have the athleticism you see from a SF, and he struggled against the good teams he faced….Needs to polish every aspect of his game, especially fundamentally, and really doesn’t play with the intensity and toughness needed to all the time…Covington is a prospect who is hard to gauge, and I admittedly may have him too high in my list, but some team could use him like a Brian Cook or an Anthony Tolliver and select him in the 2nd round. Maybe.