Jackie Carmichael, PF, Illinois State
I had a chance to see Carmichael up close over the summer playing in the Nike Elite camps and he was impressive not just as a player but also as a person. Maturity was a trait that was quickly on display while we spoke. The remainder of the camp Carmichael was not the most flashy prospect but was very effective.
As a senior, Carmichael is averaging over 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game. At Illinois State, Carmichael does not get to go against the top competition often but looked very good in a close loss to Louisville.
Carmichael is a balanced player that contributes on both ends of the court, has good size, and athleticism. While he is not destined to be an All-Star, Carmichael could be a quality backup or even slightly above-average starting power forward in the NBA. I’d expect Carmichael to hear his name called somewhere in the early part of round two.
Trevor Mbakwe, PF, Minnesota
I am a huge fan of Mbakwe and believe he is one of the most underrated players in the country. Mbakwe, 24 years old, is not your typical prospect but he has posted some unbelievable efficiency rates while at Minnesota.
The calling card of Mbakwe’s game is defense and rebounding. If not for a minutes restriction as he returns from an ACL injury Mbakwe would be averaging a double-double. Despite being 6’8″, Mbakwe is freakishly long, explosive, and very focused. In the NBA it would not be a surprise to see him defend players on the perimeter or in the post. I hesitate to toss around Dennis Rodman, comparisons but this is the type of player that can have that same type of impact minus the personal baggage.
Offensively, Mbakwe doesn’t force bad shots, has good vision, and is a decent passer. Most of his offense will come from putbacks and dunks. Based on talent, athleticism, and his grittiness, Mbakwe would normally be a first-round pick but due to several injuries he is likely a second-rounder.
Richard Howell, PF, North Carolina State
When you watch North Carolina State you probably don’t pay close attention to Howell or the impact he has on the game. Howell fills up the stat sheet on a nightly basis averaging a double-double, shooting over 58%, with 2 assists, and 1 block and steal a game. On a team with C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, and a cast of talented freshmen, Howell has stepped up as a leader for Mark Gottfried.
If Howell is not within 10 feet he is playing too far away from the basket, but he is that player that does all the dirty work for his team — setting screens, boxing out, and keeping balls alive. The improvements Howell has made to his game are apparent, and NBA scouts who have been in Raleigh the last few years to scout Leslie and Brown have come away impressed with Howell’s development.
Defensively, Howell will add toughness to any team he is a part of while working tirelessly for every rebound. In the past watching Howell, he has irked a few opponents with hard screens, but he plays with the type intensity that scouts clamor for.
If Howell were a few inches taller he could legitimately play center and would have much higher value, but as it stands should be a Udonis Haslem type of player for whichever teams selects him. As NBA teams continue to draft with a philosophy of building a team rather than selecting the best player available, it would not be a surprise to see Howell selected somewhere in the top 45.
Joe Kotoch is the Editor-in-Chief of Pro Basketball Draft, a leading scouting service in the world of professional basketball. Before Joe created PBD, he served as an NBPA & FIBA certified agent and scouted players all across the world. Born and raised in Cleveland, Joe also contributes to Fox Sports Ohio and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. You can follow Joe on Twitter @Probballdraft.