Jon Rothstein: The Sleeper Is Domantas Sabonis

If you peruse a couple of NBA mock drafts, you’re going to notice something about the projected lottery picks. Aside from Brandon Ingram, who went to Duke, and Jamal Murray, who went to Kentucky, there aren’t a lot of blueblood schools represented. Case in point: The No. 1 pick played ball at LSU.

Just to be clear, we’re talking basketball, not football.

“I felt really all year long that there were certain players in college basketball that weren’t playing at bluebloods, but if you switched them with somebody who was playing at Kentucky, they would be compared to one of the players that John Calipari has had recently – and Kris Dunn is an easy (comparison) to make,” CBS Sports college basketball insider Jon Rothstein said in studio on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I’ve said since November that if you switched him and Tyler Ulis, people would be comparing Kris Dunn to John Wall seven days a week and twice on Sunday.”

Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jackson is another example.

“If he was at Kentucky, people would be comparing him to Eric Bledsoe,” Rothstein said. “When you look at his demeanor, he’s almost built like a defensive back, and he was a starter on back-to-back teams who made the Elite Eight. When you look at the NBA playoffs and you look at teams that played combo guards together, here’s a guy at the next level that defenders are going to have a hard time staying in front of him. He needs to be a better shooter, but just in terms of the ability to break down defenses and get to the tin, that’s a perfect example of a player who’s better suited to make a player at the NBA level now versus seven or eight years ago.”

While the 76ers will likely go with Ben Simmons first overall, they may take a local product later in the draft. DeAndre Bembry, who starred at Saint Joseph’s, averaged 17+ points, 7+ rebounds and 3+ assists in each of the last two seasons.

“DeAndre Bembry can go into an NBA game right now and have an impact, but it’s all about fit,” Rothstein said. “Saint Joseph’s had major chemistry issues before DeAndre Bembry got to campus, and he was the cement that filled everything in between the cracks the past three years when St. Joe’s won two of the last three Atlantic 10 Tournaments. But he’s the type of guy, if he goes to an Oklahoma City or a San Antonio, he will be in a situation where he can be a rotation guy next year. From what I’m hearing, Atlanta has a lot of interest at 21, Philadelphia has interest at 24 and 26, and San Antonio (has interest) at 29. But that’s the type of guy, if he goes to the Sixers and they’re in a rebuilding situation, you’re not going to see him flourish. He needs to be around other guys that are playing at a high level.”

NBA scouts are also high on Jakob Poeltl, a 7-footer from Austria. Then again, Gonzaga’s Domantas Sabonis abused Poeltl this past March, finishing with 19 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.

“He was dominated and made into mincemeat by Domantas Sabonis in the NCAA Tournament,” Rothstein said. “I think what we learned is that if there’s a sleeper right now in terms of the lottery, the sleeper is Domantas Sabonis. I’ve called him for two years the epitome of efficiency. When he was a freshman at Gonzaga, he had seven games where he was perfect form the field. That’s Christian-Laettener-against-Duke stuff – seven times.”

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