By Jimmy Hyams
Jordan Bone hasn’t shown up on many NBA mock drafts, but ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla thinks the 6-foot-3 point guard can find a home in the NBA.
Fraschilla, former head coach at Manhattan, St. John’s and New Mexico, projects the Tennessee floor leader as a second-round pick.
“I think he can make a team as a back-up point guard,’’ Fraschilla said in a recent interview on The Sports Animal, WNML.
That was before Bone turned heads at the NBA combine with his 42.5 vertical jump and speed in the ¾ court sprint and agility drill that exceeded what Russell Westbrook did at the combine years ago.
Fraschilla watched Tennessee practice in October and was “really impressed’’ by Bone.
“I was not surprised by the junior year he had,’’ Fraschilla said. “He really improved, I think, over the course of three years.’’
Jones improved his scoring average from 7.3 as a sophomore to 13.5 as a junior. His assists went from 3.5 per game to 5.8. He ranked among the SEC leaders in assists-to-turnover ratio.
Fraschilla described Grant Williams, the two-time SEC player of the year, and Admiral Schofield as “a little bit of an outlier’’ for the NBA.
“Because he spent most of his career in the paint and he is just now trying to extend his range out to the 3-point line, where he can be a more effective player,’’ Fraschilla said.
Fraschilla said UT coach Rick Barnes compared Williams to a former star at Texas PJ Tucker, who has had an eight-year NBA career. Tucker became a decent 3-point shooter after not having taken a shoot beyond the arc in college.
Williams, who hit 82 percent of his free throws last year, projects to be a capable 3-point shooter because many basketball experts say if you can hit free throws, you can become a good marksman from distance.
Williams was 30 of 103 on 3-point tries during his UT career, 15 of 46 (32.6 percent) last year.
While the 6-foot-5 ¾ Williams has drawn comparisons to Golden State star Draymond Green, a 6-foot-7 former Michigan State product, Fraschilla doesn’t see it.
“I don’t think (Williams) is as mobile in the open court,’’ Fraschilla said. “I mean, Grant is certainly a tremendous player … an All-American. But I’m not sure he moves his feet as well as Draymond did at Michigan State, so that could be an issue.
Williams “is going to have to play some away from the basket because even though he was a dominant player in the SEC and in college basketball, watching him on tape, when he’s going up against players with NBA type length from 10 feet, it has been very difficult, in my opinion, for him to be the dominant player he is at other times.’’
While Williams lacks Green’s lateral defensive quickness, Fraschilla said, “he can certainly morph into a player that can be a useful NBA player.’’
Fraschilla said some mock drafts favor Kentucky’s PJ Washington over Williams because Washington took and made more 3-pointers than did Williams.
While is Schofield an outlier?
“Because he’s 6-5 and built like a linebacker,’’ Fraschilla said. “You have to figure out is he a two, is he a three? Can he move his feet well enough to guard the most dynamic position in the game, guys like Paul George and Kevin Durant?’’
Schofield’s strongest asset as an NBA player is his much-improved 3-point shooting.
Fraschilla said that while Schofield and Williams had terrific college careers, 6-11 center Kyle Alexander “has more of an NBA body when you look at his length and athleticism, and despite the frustration fans had with him at times at catching the ball.
“I saw tremendous progress over his career, especially under Rick Barnes, and it wouldn’t shock me at all if a year from now, he’s on a roster. … His ceiling would be a guy that can be in an NBA rotation someday.’’
Based on the coaching Alexander has had and how he’s been pushed, “he’s going to be a little more prepared than the average college kid, just like Jordan, Admiral and Grant.’’