Karl-Anthony Towns, D'Angelo Russell, Jahlil Okafor and Emmanuel Mudiay. What do these players have in common? Their names have been and will continue to be on nearly every piece of NBA draft related material from now until the draft in June. We see their faces on the internet and we see their games on ESPN. We all know what those guys are capable of and we know that they have a spot at the next level. But this new NBADraft.net feature will spotlight some prospects that don’t necessarily get the type of attention that the top prospects do. These are "Under the Radar" players that, while may not be considered high level NBA prospects for this draft, have definitely turned some heads with their play and deserve to be recognized for it.
Kyle Washington – NC State
The sophomore big man from Minnesota has been a mainstay in the Wolfpack lineup this season. After having an up and down freshman season that saw him in and out of the starting lineup, Washington has cemented himself in Head Coach Mark Gottfried’s rotation this season. Washington came into college as a versatile big man capable of play both post spots and he hasn’t disappointed. He starts at the five most nights and then can easily transition to the four when Beejay Anya comes in. Last year he struggled at times with his consistency as he would get out of control and force shots and still has a tendency to do that at times, as most young bigs do. But this season it has been Washington’s awareness and shot selection that has really been key for his development. He still falls in love with his jumper, which at times can be a product of a jump shot happy State offense, but he has really developed his post game and while most of his jump hooks lack the type of arc that you would want, it has become an effective tool on the block when he gets an opportunity.
Washington still has a ways to go before he will be considered a high level NBA prospect but his coaches are encouraged by his development. NC State legend and current Assistant Coach and Director of Player Development told me that he has really been impressed with how Kyle has progressed, saying "Kyle is a great athlete. He can score and rebound. He’s left handed and he uses that to his advantage. He’s become a more reliable shooter and makes 15-19 jump shots with consistency. At 6’9 he has great size and is really improving on defense. He has a high basketball IQ and he plays with a ton of emotion. And the best part is that he’s only a sophomore."
With State’s offense being an extremely guard-oriented type of offense, Washington has to pick his spots and he has done that well this season. His numbers have improved across the board this season and he has really stepped up for this Wolfpack team who lack players on the inside that can get a bucket when you need them to. He has even developed a decent stroke from distance which will go a long way towards his draft status as he really projects as more of a four than a five at the next level.
Fred Miller – USC Upstate
Miller is a guy I’ve seen play quite a bit this season. The senior guard from Atlanta, Georgia is a do-it-all type of player for the Spartans and is a huge reason why the team is one of the favorites to come out of the Atlantic Sun Conference and snag that NCAAT birth. Miller’s natural position is the off guard but for a smallish Spartan team, he has had to play a lot of small forward at times as the team starts three guards with him being the biggest and most athletic. Miller, while not the team’s primary ball handler leads the team in assists at 4.2. He’s a really good rebounder for his size and playing out of position most of the time as he hauls in 4.8 rebounds per game. But what Miller does, isn’t always shown in the stat sheet. He consistently draws the opposing team’s best defender and his ability to spread the floor and get to the bucket open up the game for his teammates. He and fellow seniors Ty Greene and Mario Blessing are all three seniors and have all three played in their fair share of games at the collegiate level, 361 total at this point. That’s a lot of games and that’s a lot of seasoning. That’s probably why they spearhead an attack that leads the conference in fewest TO’s per game, a stat that ranks in the top 25 nationally. Miller brings a calming influence to his team and has, on many occasions, been the go to guy late in the game when his team needs a basket. He ranks #1 in the Atlantic Sun and in the top 35 nationally in plus/mines per StatSheet.com. He averages right at 2 steals per game and, from what I’ve seen, could arguably be the MVP of the conference.
And his coaches feel the same way. Former Georgia Tech player and current Spartan Associate Head Coach Kyle Perry said of Miller, "He’s a great kid. He has developed over the last three years as a shooter more than anything. He has always had the ability to make plays for others and to create his own shot. He has gotten tougher and has taken a bigger role in our program this year. He worked hard the last two summers shooting the ball. He is very fast with the ball in his hands and has very good vision. He is capable of getting all the way to the rim or pulling up and making jump shots now which makes him a much tougher guard."
Just ask the likes of Memphis, Mississippi State, Maryland and Georgia Tech how hard of a guard Miller is. Those are just a few of the OOC games that the team has played this season, all on the road. They went 2-2 during that stretch, with wins against the Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets that should help keep the Spartans on the bubble no matter what this season. Miller still has some work to do to become a full-fledged pro prospect but he has taken great strides and improved in every aspect of his game in each of his four seasons in Spartanburg and there’s no reason to think that his development won’t continue and that he could have a chance to play in the league some day.
Tyler Harvey – Eastern Washington
Although it might be hard to believe that the NCAA’s leading scorer could be considered a guy who is "under the radar", that’s exactly what Harvey is. Under the radar is actually the perfect way to describe Harvey as he was a guy that at one point had zero scholarship offers in high school. How more under the radar can you get than that? There’s a great story on Harvey from Yahoo’s Jeff Eisenberg here if you haven’t already read it. The interesting thing about Harvey is his Anthony Davis-eque growth spurt in high school that saw him grow almost a foot. There are things he developed during his time as a smaller player that have really helped him in the scoring department at Eastern Washington. He has one of the best floaters I’ve seen in the college game in a while and is consistent when using his left or his right hand. He’s known for his shooting ability, especially from deep as he’s shooting over 47% as a junior from deep. Like the aforementioned Washington, Harvey is a lefty and has a tendency to rely on his left hand too much but he is extremely quick of the dribble and has shown an ability to get to the bucket and finish over taller players, probably due to his time as a sub 6 foot guard. He has range for days and has a quick release on his shot. He’s been held below 20 points just six times this season and is a huge reason why the Eagles are currently sitting atop the Big Sky conference at 8-1.
As with most prospects that play at a smaller school against lesser competition, you would love to see what he would do when playing against elite level competition on a consistent basis but he can only play the teams on his schedule and the fact that he’s such a prolific scorer at the college level no matter who he is playing is a plus for him and his future. Head Coach Jim Hayford gave Harvey rave reviews and said that "he is one of the best two or three shooters in all of college basketball". But aside from that, Hayford said that Harvey is, "just as good off the dribble as he is when spotting up, he has become a more well-rounded scorer the last two seasons as he’s become a better shooter from inside the arc. He is a great student-athlete, is extremely mature and is just an outstanding young man."
Harvey is still just a junior and is still a ways away before being mentioned as a first round draft pick but his innate scoring ability will at a minimum give him a look from scouts whenever he declares for the draft. He’ll likely be the "under the radar" when working out for NBA teams if/when that happens, but based off of his history, I doubt he’d want it any other way. He’s been proving people wrong his entire life and will have a smile on his face as he continues to do it. If his Eagles can get into the NCAAT and potentially make a run, his stock will be extremely high and he could hear his name called in the second round this summer.
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