Matt Babcock recently stopped by a Louisville Cardinals practice to evaluate several of the team’s NBA prospects. Here are his takeaways:
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to spend some time with the Louisville Cardinals basketball team. While at practice, it was apparent right away that this team is legit. In only his second season since leaving his post as the head coach of the Xavier Musketeers and making the short drive down the I-71 from Cincinnati, Chris Mack has the Louisville program looking as good as ever. If the college basketball world doesn’t know yet, they soon will. Louisville is back!
A roster with a nice balance of upperclassmen leadership and youthful talent, they should be one of the top teams in the country. I could go on and on discussing my expectations for the Louisville team and how they stack up within the current landscape of college basketball, but that’s not what I’m here to do. Let’s talk about NBA prospects…
Below are the Louisville players that appear heavily on my radar:
Position: SF/PF | Height: 6’7” | Weight: 225 | Class: Junior
The top returning scorer in the ACC, Nwora is the highest-rated NBA prospect currently on the Louisville team. The son of Alex Nwora, head coach of the Nigerian national team, Jordan has a good overall feel for the game. Most importantly though, he has one skill that comes at a premium: he can flat out shoot the ball from anywhere. Although he does not have the quickest feet, the combination of his positional size and innate ability to shoot the ball from outside, Nwora will likely hear his name being called during the 1st round of the NBA draft in June.
Position: C | Height: 6’10” | Weight: 255 | Class: Redshirt Senior
A 22-year old redshirt senior, Steven Enoch may not get the vote from NBA analytics departments. The metrics suggest younger players are generally a better choice, due to more upside and room for growth — not something I necessarily disagree with... However, in this case, I’d like to make the argument that Enoch is a perfect ‘plug and play’ prospect, as he’s ready to play in the NBA right away. At 6’10” and a strong 255 pounds, Enoch is a smart and effective player. He can score on the block and shoot the ball from outside. He is not an alpha dog type and will likely never dominate a game — not even at the college level. But be that as it may, I see him as a player capable and willing to fill a complementary role at the NBA level — attributes that serve teams significant value. Subsequently, I expect Enoch to be a solid 2nd round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Position: SG/SF | Height: 6’7” | Weight: 200 | Class: Freshman
A 5-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American, Samuell Williamson, from Rockwall, Texas, leads the charge for Louisville’s highly ranked 2019 recruiting class. At 6’7” and a lean 200 pounds, Williamson has drawn some comparisons to a current member of the Boston Celtics, Jayson Tatum. A natural scorer with a terrific mid-range game, Williamson has impressed me with his performance at various high school events in the past. Unfortunately, at that specific practice, he had a poor showing and couldn’t buy a bucket. I have learned from my dad, Dave Babcock, longtime director of player personnel for the Milwaukee Bucks, that one should not overreact to an isolated event when evaluating prospects — so I will be slow to take a negative turn on him, despite the rough day. However, I would like to see him produce at the college level before I go all in and declare him a surefire early entrant in the 2020 NBA Draft. I’m pretty certain he will play in the NBA — it’s just a matter of when. I will surely be tracking him closely this season.
Position: C | Height: 6’10” | Weight: 240 | Class: Freshman
Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Aidan Igiehon is perhaps more of a ‘down the road’ type of prospect compared to the other players on this list. He is still noteworthy, nonetheless. Possessing a chiseled frame and high-level athleticism, Igiehon is a physical specimen. He should fill a solid role for the Louisville team as a high energy big man that can defend, rebound, and finish ferociously at the rim. His offensive development is the key to him maximizing his potential and finding himself on an NBA roster someday.
All in all, there was a great group of prospects at Louisville. It proved to be an extremely productive stop. Following that practice, I continued on my journey scouring the map, evaluating the top prospects likely to be in the 2020 NBA Draft.
My next stop: the Memphis Tigers' Pro Day.