Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, Nassir Little. These are the names most people think of when they think of the 2019 NBA Draft. All are blue-chip prospects, and all are freshman. But there’s one guy who’s not at a one-and-done school who NBA and NCAA fans alike seem to be overlooking, Murray State’s Demetris “Ja” Morant.
Coming out of high school, no major recruiting databases even dubbed him a single star, which meant he was completely unheard of to NBA teams. But the 6-foot-3, 175-pound point guard has continuously proved doubters wrong. In his first season at Murray State, Morant put up 12.7 PPG, 6.3 APG, and 6.5 RPG, and forced NBA scouts around the league to take serious notice of his game. As the season went on he showed why his elite first-step and otherworldly athleticism deserved a spot on a roster, and even earned fringe-lottery/late-1st round consideration in the 2018 NBA Draft.
However, Morant didn’t take the bait. He knew that with a year of college ball under his belt, he would dominate the Ohio Valley Conference and vastly improve his draft stock for 2019. Thus far in his sophomore season, the South Carolina native is averaging 23.3 PPG, 9.9 APG, and 6.8 RPG to go along with almost 2 steals as well. Slowly but surely, Morant has worked himself into Naismith Player of the Year considerations and has been soaring up draft boards.
Many have him going somewhere between 3 and 6, as he has become the face of this year’s class of point guards. And yes, teams are drooling over the thought of Zion or RJ in their jerseys, but Morant might be able to fill a need for many bottom-feeders just as well. Teams like the Knicks, Suns, and Magic have all spent years in search for a reliable point guard, and if any fall out of the top 2-3 draft spots, Morant could be the obvious pick.
He could be a star in the league given the right circumstances and opportunities. Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett are as clear a top-2 as we’ve seen in a long time, but Ja Morant is as good as anyone in the world for that No. 3 spot.
At the very least, Zion’s going to have some competition in the dunk contest one day: