Earlier this week, I wrote that Butler’s Shelvin Mack could make an immediate impact in the right situation next year as an NBA rookie. While Mack’s current projection is slated somewhere between the late-first and mid-second round, there are still a ton of other possible hidden gems strewn throughout the class. With this on the brain, UCLA’s Tyler Honeycutt immediately came to mind.
Currently, most draft projections rank Honeycutt as a mid-to-late first round pick. While the 6-8 sophomore wasn’t exactly dominant during his stint in Westwood, he does possess the size, athleticism and potential to rise up in the NBA. As a Bruin, Honeycutt has been all over the board. One game, he’ll drop 33 points and nine boards in a one-point loss at Kansas and follow it up by shooting 11-for-39 from the field over the next three games. On the year, he averaged 12.8 points, 7.2 boards and a ridiculous 2.1 blocks a game for Coach Ben Howland. Not spectacular numbers, but the kid’s upside is undeniable.
Beyond having elite-level athleticism and bounce, Honeycutt is as comfortable shooting from the outside as he is driving to the rim. His long arms and athleticism also contribute to what might ultimately become his calling card in the NBA: defense. His decision-making and shot selection can be shaky at times, and that’s contributed to by his young age and relative inexperience. Conversely, he shows similar flashes to another lengthy 6-9 former late-first round selection, Tayshaun Prince.
Detroit selected Prince in the 2002 Draft after they watched more highly coveted players at the time fall off the board before their No. 23 selection. Yet, after Jared Jeffries‘ selection at No. 11 to Washington, no one chosen before Prince is still actively catching burn in the League. Prince also didn’t really make his presence known until his second season, where he averaged 10.3 points and 4.7 boards a game on his way to helping the Pistons claim the 2003-04 championship title that same year. For the nine-year veteran, he was able to flourish on a veteran-laden squad â€“ something Honeycutt would likely have the advantage of matching if he is indeed selected in the later half of the first round. Prince also came from a major program in Kentucky.
Likewise, Honeycutt played in a system and for a coach who has consistently produced surprisingly good pros lately. Guys like Arron Afflalo, Jrue Holiday, Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook have all come out of Howland’s ranks within the last few years and found success within the NBA. And like his fellow teammate and hopeful 2011 draftee, Malcolm Lee, Honeycutt will look to make that same sort of surprising impact. He’s definitely got the tools to succeed, whether he is able to put it all together, we’ll find out soon enough.
What do you think about Honeycutt’s NBA future?
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