The 2020 NBA Draft was a down one for Canadian Basketball with zero Canadians selected for the first time since 2009. But it should just be a one year lull giving way to an exciting 2021 NBA Draft with at least a few Canadians selected.
It's still very early in the 2020-21 college basketball season, but there are already a few Canadians who have jumped onto the NBA Draft radar. Here are six Canadians to keep an eye on for this year's NBA draft according to Canadian basketball scout Wesley Brown.
Arizona's Bennedict Mathurin has taken one of the most unusual paths to collegiate stardom. A Haitian-Canadian from Montreal, Mathurin was a pioneer at the NBA Acadamy in Latin America, where he developed into a four-star prospect in Mexico. Now, in his freshman season with the Wildcats, he's quickly burst onto the draft prospect scene as a multi-skilled, 6-foot-7 guard.
"The hottest guy probably of all, who I think might be a first-round pick this year is Bennedict Mathurin," Brown said. "He just has an elite body, NBA size, and athleticism. He’s shooting an elite percentage on the season, 45.8% from 3, 52% from the field, and 83.7% from the free-throw line. He’s totally accepted his role as a shooter. He showed last night against Arizona State in a huge win that he’s a super fluid athlete. So he can get in the lane. He’s got to work on his handle a little, but in terms of his floor, it’s pretty high because of his ability to defend, his shooting, and his athleticism. He’s got the potential to be way more than just a shooter and a role guy."
Syracuse's Quincy Guerrier is another Montrealer who has quickly become of of the best forwards in the ACC. Listed at just 6-foot-7, Guerrier plays up for his size and has the kind of small-ball versatility NBA teams are looking for these days.
"I love Quincy. I love Quincy. Quincy, to me, could be a first-round pick," Brown said. "Quincy has put up huge numbers against some elite competition like North Carolina who plays big as well. Quincy knows and plays his role to a T. He’s become a good shot blocker. He had back-to-back four and five shot block games against really good ACC competition. He attacks, he’s a good finisher in the paint, he knows what shots he likes to take and has the time to take and he attacks closeouts well. If there’s help at the rim he finds the kick out. He makes the simple play and he’s a guy who already plays a reliable role that projects exactly to the role he would play in the NBA in terms of his shot selection, his IQ, his feel, rebounding, shooting, finishing, whatever. He fits."
Minnesota's Marcus Carr was on the radar as a potential 2020 NBA Draft declarant, but he pulled his name back and so far it's worked out well for him. He's a 6-foot-2 junior goard and he's been one of the leaders for the Golden Gophers this season, averaging over 20 points and 5.5 assists per game this year.
"Carr is a skilled, scoring guard. He’s shot it a little worse recently, but he’s led Minnesota to some unbelievable wins in an extremely tough Big Ten conference," Brown said. "His ability to help his team win has to stand out even though his stats have tailed off in terms of his shooting percentage. He’s still averaging very good numbers throughout the year and he’s relied upon to carry a huge part of their offence."
After three seasons at Rutgers, Eugene Omoruyi has found a home at Oregon where he's become a versatile 6-foot-6 forward for the Ducks. He won't wow you with his scoring, but it's everything else he brings to the table that could make him an NBA prospect.
"Eugene really fits with the modern NBA. He’s a bit of an undersized four, but he knows how to play," Brown said. "He doesn’t need the ball to succeed, he moves really well without it. He’s a swiss army knife. He’s pretty good at everything as opposed to most guys where you need an NBA skill. He’s versatile, he’s switchable on defence. He’s a potential first round pick and definitely a potential draft pick."
Another Canadian transfer, Dalano Banton appears to have found a home at Nebraska after spending his freshman season at Western Kentucky. Like Omoruyi, Banton isn't an elite scorer by any means, but he's an tall and physical guard with impressive rebounding and playmaking skills.
"Nebraska is struggling, but Banton is a role guy, he probably even be a point guard at 6-foot-9," Brown said. "He’s got a great IQ and feel for the game, but he’s not a scorer. He’s not willing to really impose himself in that way to help lift Nebraska to some wins. But he’s a guy that you can plug in and be a role player in the NBA for a long time because he’s got great feel and size, a little like Kyle Anderson on the Grizzlies."
Like Carr, South Carolina's AJ Lawson is another 2020 NBA Draft prospect who decided to return to school for his junior season. While his shooting numbers have taken a bit of a dip this year, he's increased his scoring and become a bigger part of the Gamecocks offence.
"AJ Lawson fits the athletic profile of a draft pick," Brown said. "He’s a super long and athletic wing. He struggles shooting it guarded, but he shoots it pretty well when he’s unguarded. So he projects as a 3-and-D type of player who with a smaller role in the NBA could succeed because he fits the athletic profile."
Down the road prospects: Josh Primo & Jahmyl Telfort
Alabama freshman Josh Primo is starting to show signs of becoming a really exciting 2022 NBA Draft prospect. He's a 6-foot-6 guard and though he's still a little inconsistent, when he's on, he's really on.
"He just had his second 22-point game in a huge blowout against LSU and you could see his confidence growing," Brown said. "He’s proving to be an elite shooter in spot-ups. He’s still got to improve a little off the bounce, but he’s got the tools to improve his finishing and he’s just getting used to college basketball right now. He’s a guy that could be a draft pick after next this year. He’s long, he’s athletic, he’s fluid, and he can really shoot it."
The final name to look for down the road is Northeastern's Jahmyl Telfort. A 6-foot-7 forward, Telfort is about as under the radar as they come. He wasn't ranked in high school by any of the major recruiting websites, but he's quitly found a nice spot for himself with the Huskies.
"I always evaluated Jahmyl as a high major prospect," Brown said. "He has a great body, he’s willing to defend every position on the floor and can, pretty much. Coming off the bench for Northeastern as a freshman, he’s averaging 11.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, he’s shooting 37.2% from 3, and I think his shooting has been the most impressive part. He looks so far to be a good 3-point shooter and he was never that before. He had a good jump shot, but I don’t think he was ever a consistent 3-point shooter and he’s shooing pretty consistently now. If he’s ever given more of a role to score, he could be a real sleeper down the road because he’s a 3-and-D guy who has proven he can improve his shot and can guard so many positions. In an NBA role, he has the body, athletic ability, and the willingness to defend, and personality to fit with a team really well."
Telfort isn't a 2021 or 2022 draft prospect, but he's a name worth remembering when the draft rolls around a few years from now.