NBA draft analyst Matt Babcock shares his thoughts on prospect Zeke Nnaji of the Arizona Wildcats.
In an article I wrote in October, I mentioned that Arizona freshman Zeke Nnaji was a sleeper for this year’s NBA draft. Well, at this point, I think it’s safe to say that was an accurate statement, as he has seemingly secured himself as a first-round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, despite having been relatively unknown among NBA circles prior to the season.
Nnaji has been terrific from the start for the Wildcats this season, averaging 16.2 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 1.0 block per game while shooting an impressive 60.1% from the field. At 6’11”, Nnaji is very skilled for a player his size, possessing good mobility and a high motor which will allow him to play either the power forward or center positions effectively at the next level. Although being utilized primarily as a low post scorer within the Wildcats’ offense, Nnaji has shown promise as an outside shooter in the past when playing for the AAU team, D1 Minnesota and Hopkins High School — the same high school as former NBA player Kris Humphries. I have also seen Nnaji’s capability to shoot the ball from outside myself, as I was in attendance when he won the three-point contest at the Allen Iverson Classic in Philadelphia last spring.
The pre-draft process should prove to serve Nnaji extremely well, giving him the ability to put his outside shooting on full display. This, in turn, will allow him to paint a different picture for NBA personnel of what role he could potentially fill down the road. Although not quite as explosive, I envision Nnaji developing into a player that can be put into a comparable role as the Atlanta Hawks’ John Collins, serving as a versatile big man that can stretch the floor.
Other elements of Nnaji that should shine during the pre-draft process include his off-court characteristics. He has a reputation for being an intelligent and polished young man who is also an extremely hard worker. Last year, he supposedly implemented a strict diet and workout plan into his routine, leading to a significant improvement in his physical strength and conditioning before even stepping foot on campus in Tucson — not something that is common for an 18-year-old incoming freshman. To top off his impressiveness, he is a skilled pianist who not only plays, but also composes his own music.
From my vantage point, Nnaji has more than adequate physical tools and a skill set that should translate to the next level seamlessly. He also possesses a growth mindset and a background check that passes with flying colors. Zeke Nnaji is the type of player that I think every team should want to have as a part of their organization because I believe he has a recipe for success. We currently have him slotted as the #11 pick on the Babcock Hoops 2020 NBA Mock Draft.