NBA Scouts Taking First-Round Flyers on These Surprise Prospects

December 9th, 2016 by Jonathan Wasserman Leave a reply »

We had an idea over the summer of who would draw first-round interest in the NBA draft. But there are always a handful of names that come out of nowhere to rise up boards. (Marquese Chriss, Wade Baldwin IV, DeAndre' Bembry and Malachi Richardson are just a few examples from 2016.) 

We've already seen at least five 2017 prospects follow suit with surprising production that's landed them on the NBA's radar. While it's difficult to say for sure when each of the following prospects will declare, it's becoming easier to foresee where they'll go once they do.

After fast, unexpected starts, scouts have pegged these previously under-the-radar players as first-round talents.  


T.J. Leaf (UCLA, PF, Freshman)

Though a consensus top-20 recruit (ESPN, Rivals, 247Sports), T.J. Leaf never jumped out as NBA material in high school. Uninspiring athleticism, short arms and boyish muscle definition were to blame. And with Lonzo Ball absorbing most of the early credit and spotlight at UCLA, Leaf's play, numbers and potential went overlooked.

Not anymore—Leaf ha ...

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