CHICAGO -- Though the NBA draft combine is just one day away, I got an early preview of seven prospects Tuesday morning at the Fitness Formula Club.
I sat courtside for a couple of hours watching Duke's Mason Plumlee, Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr., Murray State's Isaiah Canaan, Illinois State's Jackie Carmichael, Syracuse's James Southerland, Wisconsin's Jared Berggren and Florida Gulf Coast's Sherwood Brown go through a combination of drills as well as 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 games.
Here's what I learned:
• As a freshman at Duke, Plumlee quickly found himself in the top 10 of our 2009 Top 100 board. Blessed with size, an NBA body and elite athleticism for a big, he seemed like a surefire bet for the lottery. Plumlee, however, didn't quite live up to expectations, and as a sophomore and junior he saw his stock slide to the mid-to-late first-round range.
This season, as a senior, he finally lived up to his lofty expectations. As one of the two or three best players in the ACC, Plumlee not only showed off his athletic prowess but also became a big-time rebounder and scorer for Duke.
His reward? Skepticism -- and heaps of it -- from NBA scouts and GMs.
Plumlee is 23, and for NBA teams, that's akin to having an infectious disease. Despite his improvements on the court, scouts have been reluctant to put him back into the top 10. I understand the hesitation because of his age. Virtually every advanced metric says age is a strong predictor of NBA success or failure. But with Plumlee, I'm not so sure.
Virtually every advanced metric says age is a strong predictor of NBA success or failure. But with Plumlee, I'm not so sure.