The past two days in Chicago saw 59 NBA hopefuls, and countless NBA coaches and executives pass through the Quest Multisport Complex for the NBA Draft Combine. Last year the event was irrelevant from a UConn fan's standpoint, but this year it was an opportunity for National Champions Shabazz Napier and DeAndre Daniels to improve their draft stock through drills and interviews.
Day one on Thursday started with measurements and then went to position drills where the groups were split up by position. DeAndre Daniels came into the combine projected as a late first round to early second round pick and had something to prove. He measured well, including having the biggest hands, and was the tallest of the small forward group in shoes at 6'8". On the court he impressed with his ball handling and passing ability that we had not seen much of this year (as evidenced by his 17 assists in 38 games). He also shot the ball well shooting 68 percent on mid-range attempts, good for third among 13 small forwards, and went 27-50 from beyond the arc.
Unlike Daniels, Napier did not participate in the shooting drills because it's pretty clear that he can shoot the ball from anywhere. He went through all the measurements though, most of which placed him towards the bottom of the group of point guards such as height without shoes (5'11), weight (175.2), wingspan (6'3.25") and body fat (7.35%) This was not a surprise for scouts however, and will have no impact on his projected mid-to-late first round draft status.
Day two in Chicago saw the players complete agility drills such as the shuttle run, three-quarters sprint and the vertical leap. Daniels finished in middle of the pack agility wise, but had the sixth-worst vertical, leaping 32 inches. This was surprising considering we were treated to a year with dunks such as this. However, it made this play make a bit more sense.
Napier meanwhile finished in the bottom half of participants in the lateral agility drills, but pleasantly surprised just about everyone by finishing tied for 11th in vertical leap at 37.5 inches. It was a remarkable number considering that he never even attempted a dunk in a game in his 4 years as a Husky.
Overall it was a good weekend for the two Huskies in attendance. The NBA Combine doesn't mean a whole lot, especially with elite players such as Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Joel Embid not participating, but Daniels got to show off some parts of his game that aren't well-established, and Napier was able to show off his sneaky athleticism.
The NBA Draft takes place on June 26th, and it should be an exciting night for Husky Nation.