Matthew Harvey writes for NBADraft.net and does a column on mid-major players around the country. I took notice when Central Michigan’s Marcus Keene was named Mid-Major player of the week for the second time this season. I asked Matthew to sit down and talk with me about Keene and the rest of the MAC’s prospects. He was kind enough to make some time for me and provided a very intriguing “5 Good Minutes with NBADraft.net’s Matthew Harvey.”
Marcus Keene: Wooden Award List, Draft Profile and more
Q: The Wooden Award releases a candidate list throughout the season. You wrote last week about how Central Michigan’s Marcus Keene appeared on the list for the first time this year as the list dropped down to just 20 candidates. What do you think made the committee finally take notice?
Matthew: To start off he’s been averaging close to 30 points a game all season long...at the point of the year right...when conference play begins, guy's stats are a little bit elevated...Once you start getting into conference play, the level of competition rises significantly...Marcus Keene has been averaging 29, 30, 31 points all year but once conference play really kicked off and started going, Central Michigan started playing more talented teams in the MAC Conference...Teams that know him and Central Michigan a lot better. The committee took notice and said hey this guy has been killing it out there all season long, he's been averaging a ton of points, putting in the work...and now that he's doing it with for 3 weeks left in the season, it's really time to start respecting what he's actually doing with his team...The level of his play is pretty significant and he can become the first player...in the last 20 years to average 30 points for a season in Division I college basketball. The Wooden committee...finally came to their senses and thought this guy definitely deserves some consideration for what he's doing this late in the season.
Q: What does Marcus Keene’s Draft profile look like and could he get drafted into the NBA?
Matthew: Well there (are) things that he can definitely bring to the table...He’s explosive with the ball and he can get hot off the dribble...or with (his) passing and when he gets hot shooting and scoring the ball, it just makes his passing even more dangerous...He averages close to 20 shots a game, which is pretty remarkable in college basketball. Those are the types of numbers that NBA stars and franchise players usually average. He has a great winning attitude, a great personality and I've heard his Head Coach, Keno Davis, has had only good things to say about him...so I think if you're looking at NBA potential, he definitely has the attitude and the intangibles to bring to the game...I do not believe he is going to be drafted and that's for a couple reasons.
Number one, this draft is very very deep with guards, specifically point guards. I know the website I write for NBAdraft.net...projects...nine pure guards to go in the first round and 22 guards overall...We project 9 point guards (to be drafted) and he's not projected to be drafted by us...a lot of these guys are The Usual Suspects, the top guys that you think of...A lot of these guards that will be drafted, even at the end of the second round, are star players, as much as I hate to say it, on better teams than Central Michigan. So it's really hard to break past those types of players.
Another reason, he is very undersized. He's only 5-9, 175 lbs. A lot of people are comparing him with the skill set of Allen Iverson...He’s shown the determination coming out of college to score like Iverson but Allen Iverson was 6 foot, he was a little less in build but he was a little taller and he played at Georgetown, which is (a) significantly more respected all-around program...than Central Michigan...We only projected one player to go in the first round as a mid-major player and that's Cam Oliver from the University of Nevada, so mid-major players don't really get drafted...Their main potential (comes) as undrafted free agents in Summer League (or) even overseas. Do I think he's going to get drafted? No, should he definitely get consideration to be on a summer league team or D-League team? Absolutely. No doubt about it. He definitely deserves to be playing on a professional level, show his skill-set...on a D-League team and see if he can transition his game from college to the professional level.
Jimmy Hall and Antonio Campbell’s NBA Draft Prospects and Profile
Q: Jimmy Hall and Antonio Campbell declared last year, obviously they didn't hire an agent and ultimately came back to school. Tell me a little bit about what the benefit of that process is for an underclassmen at a mid-major program?
Matthew: I think the benefit...if you are able to declare... you get your name out there for NBA scouts. NBA teams can at least look you over and see what you have done in college, how have you affected your team, how has your team performed when you played, what are your stats, what is your character like and then if you don't have good prospects coming out...(If) you don't have good draft potential, you can always go back and try to improve that stock. The dangers of that and I think we've seen this with Antonio Campbell and to a sense Jimmy Hall, your draft stock...it's pretty hard to (raise) significantly higher but you can very easily go further down. Antonio Campbell's got that injury that's kept him out a significant portion of the season and I believe for the rest of this year. It's a risk...you can take and if you're lucky enough you can improve your stock but with Jimmy Hall and Antonio Campbell it hasn't seemed to work but I can understand the mindset...They were trying to get...their name out there so that people can look you over, can follow you more in the next year of college during their senior year...You never know what can happen.
Q: What does Antonio Campbell’s Draft Profile look like?
Matthew: I looked over Jimmy Hall and Antonio Campbell...especially Antonio Campbell...and I watched a lot of his of his videos. I saw a lot...on draftexpress.com (about him)...and from watching him personally.
Like I said, I don't think he's going to be drafted but he absolutely should be considered for a D-League team or...a summer league team...Because from what I saw...He reminds me a lot of...Cam Oliver from Nevada, who's probably going to be drafted in the first round. He's not afraid to post players up even when he's undersized because he's quick on his feet. He is a little bit faster than say a 6-10 or 6-11 footer...He's definitely explosive and he can step out and shoot the three or make the pass...So I know he got injured but...some of these games I was seeing, he played phenomenal and he is undersized. So if he did make it to the pros...(It) would be kind of tough where you would fit him on a team...I thought his intangibles and the ferocity...certainly impressed me a lot though. He definitely looked very aggressive and feisty and...the only thing holding him back was...his size...He looked really good.
I write in my articles a lot...what if you could see this guy in the NCAA tournament, because most of these guys...(people) never even heard of. Once they make the tournament...their viewership goes up...20-50 fold...If they could make the tournament and be on a national scale, like a Marcus Keene or an Isiah Johnson...all of these guys could really make shock waves in conference and post-season tournament play.
Q: So I take it from what you said about Keene that you guys at NBADraft.net do not have Jimmy Hall or Antonio Campbell projected to be drafted?
Matthew: Right now we do not.
Q: Do you have anyone from the MAC projected to get drafted?
Matthew: No, Like I said the first(mid-major) guy we have projected is Cameron Oliver. He's a forward from the University of Nevada and he actually has a lot of the...similar skill sets with Antonio Campbell, height wise and weight wise...what he brings is a big defensive presence and physicality...great at blocking shots...I think we only have maybe four or five guys being drafted from mid-majors. Most of these guys are going to have to get their shot as undrafted free agents in the D-League or on a summer league team.
The Undrafted Process
Q: What is the post-draft process for a player that has potential to play at the next level but does not get picked in the NBA draft?
Matthew: Well I think...one of the biggest things they need to try to do is...get an agent because...a lot of these players aren't expected to be drafted...So that means that scouts will not be looking at them as hard...They won't be questioned as much by NBA teams, head coaches or general managers...They can hire...an agent to try to go out and negotiate for them...players from the MAC conference, probably aren't used to talking to NBA teams and NBA front offices...they should hire an agent (that) will be great in negotiating what they can bring to the table in ways that the players can't explain or showcase.
Q: Can agents actually set up a tryout or a workout with a team?
Matthew: When you delve into that further I think a lot of it depends on the agent’s...reputation. If you can get an agent that has demonstrated working well with a certain team or a couple...teams and...has a good track record with young mid-major players...they can walk into...the general manager's office...and say Hey remember I brought you...so-and-so who played at this small school...I'm going to bring you another guy here, I think he has a lot of potential...he showed great versatility and has had good stuff in college. Just give him a tryout...give him a workout. Let's let them play some five on five...(to) see what he can bring. So I think it all depends on the reputation of the agent.
Q: How does an undrafted player catch on with a D-League team? If a player is not signed by the actual pro team that is affiliated with that D-League team, how do they get on that roster? Is there a try-out? How does that work?
Matthew: The only way I know...is if you have players on your bench on a regular team that aren't ready to go or aren't ready physically...It's kind of like the minor leagues and (they) basically just send them down to...Triple-A. The D-League...I know...gets guys off of the summer league teams if they're not good enough. It's pretty rare that you...see an undrafted player on a summer league team make the...roster of an NBA team...so most of the players you see perform well in the summer league are just taken...straight to the D-League...Some guys...they know had a really good college career but haven't seen them at...the NBA draft combine. Like say Marcus Keene...(they) may want to put him on a summer league team just because of the potential (he)...brings...What if you get a guy who averaged 31 points a game throughout an entire regular season of college basketball. What if he could average half of that, even a third of that...(he) potentially could definitely be a put on your bench or roster in the NBA.