Matt Babcock recently visited Memphis, Tennessee to attend the Memphis Tigers Pro Day. In this article, Babcock shares his evaluations of the top prospects on the young and talented Memphis team.
As I entered the Laurie-Walton Family Basketball Center in Memphis, Tennessee, I joined a large contingent of NBA personnel — a reported 70 scouts and executives in total. We were not in town to see Graceland or to enjoy some of Memphis’ famous barbeque, but to attend the Memphis Tigers Pro Day and evaluate their NBA talent instead.
Right before the Pro Day began, the herds of NBA personnel rushed the gym. As they surrounded the perimeter of the court in the practice facility, I did so as well. After the players did some physical testing, the coaches finally rolled the balls out and began basketball activities; the main reason we were there. Within moments, it was easy to see why former NBA star and current Memphis head coach, Penny Hardaway, had been getting so much praise for delivering the number one recruiting class in the country — that team is filled with future NBA players!
Although I had seen most of the Memphis players at one point or another before, I found the trip to Memphis to be an extremely productive one, nonetheless.
Below is a brief evaluation for each of the top prospects following my trip to the Memphis Tigers Pro Day:
Position: C | Height: 7’1” | Weight: 240 | Class: Freshman
Widely considered the favorite to be the number one pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Wiseman did not disappoint at the Pro Day. The combination of his size and fluidity as an athlete is undeniable. At 7’1”, the lefty big man is extremely skilled, even capable of shooting from outside. He’s added a significant amount of upper body strength since I saw him last, this past summer. Although not exactly the same type of player, I expect him to have a similar impact as DeAndre Ayton did a couple of years ago.
And yes, I also believe he will be the number one pick come June!
Position: F | Height: 6’9” | Weight: 225 | Class: Freshman
Clearly the second-highest rated player on the Memphis team at this point, Precious Achiuwa possesses a full toolbox of attributes. He is long, strong, athletic and skilled; a versatile power forward that seamlessly fits the modern game. Although he checks off just about every box on paper with his physical tools and skills, he does have a significant amount of room for growth. If he is able to improve his basketball IQ and overall feel for the game, I think we’ll be seeing Achiuwa being drafted in the lottery somewhere.
He is a prospect with major upside — the sky's the limit!
Position: G | Height: 6’3” | Weight: 175 | Class: Freshman
Originally committed to Duke, it’s looking like Boogie Ellis made a good decision joining the Tigers team, as he’ll be a key piece of their offense this season. A dynamic scorer, Ellis is a combo guard, assertive in hunting his own shot with a knack of putting the ball in the hole. A comparison that comes to mind with Ellis is current NBA player Louis Williams. As the younger generation would say, ‘he’s a bucket!’
Keep an eye on Boogie Ellis. I think the NBA could be in his near future.
Position: G | Height: 6’3” | Weight: 185 | Class: Freshman
By far the most pleasant surprise of the Memphis freshman class: point guard Damion Baugh. Although not all that highly ranked coming out of high school, the 6’3” local Memphis product is already hot on the NBA’s radar. An aggressive defender and high-level athlete, Baugh should give opponents’ lead guards fits as he is a hawk on the ball. I’d expect Coach Penny Hardaway to have him pick his man up full court routinely. Also, an effective playmaker and scorer, he should team up with Boogie Ellis to be one of the country’s most dynamic backcourts right off the bat. Despite all of the optimism that has suddenly surrounded Baugh, his outside shooting is his achilles heel at this point. His development in that area could likely determine his length of stay at Memphis. If he is able to show that he can make outside shots at an acceptable rate, I’d expect to see him in the NBA sooner than later.
Watch out for Damion Baugh!
Position: F | Height: 6’7” | Weight: 225 | Class: Freshman
A top-rated player out of Olive Branch, Mississippi, DJ Jeffries seems to be prepared to have an immediate impact on the Tigers this season. At 6’7” and a solid, sturdy 225 pounds, Jeffries is a capable scorer and deceptive athlete. He was able to showcase his talents this summer during Memphis’ four-game trip this offseason in the Bahamas, where he averaged 19 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game while shooting 57.2% from the field. Certainly, add Jeffries as another player on the Memphis team that is an NBA prospect. I’m not sure he’ll be best suited to be a one-and-done, but he’s not far off. Needless to say, I’ll be tracking him.
Position: G | Height: 6’5” | Weight: 245 | Class: Freshman
I was not familiar with Lester Quiñones going into the Pro Day but found him to be intriguing as a prospect. Possessing a football player-type of physical build, standing at 6’5”, and weighing a strong 245 pounds, Quiñones clearly had an effective presence on the floor, displaying physicality, energy, and toughness — oh, and he shoots the ball well from outside! Despite not having a traditional position, I see him as a player that can defend just about everyone, provide toughness, and make shots; attributes that will certainly provide value to Memphis, and possibly to an NBA team one day. Although not a likely candidate to be a one-and-done, I can visualize him filling a role similar to PJ Tucker for a team one day.