Konchalski Says Simmons is Most NBA-Ready in Class of 2015, Talks Labissiere, Diallo | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Monday / March 27.
  • Konchalski Says Simmons is Most NBA-Ready in Class of 2015, Talks Labissiere, Diallo

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    ben-simmonsNEW YORK – Arguably the most NBA-ready player in the Class of 2015 turned out to be the biggest name absent at the Jordan Brand Classic on Friday night.

    Ben Simmons, a 6-foot-10 forward from Montverde (Fla.) Academy bound for LSU in the fall, skipped the event at Barclays Center after playing in the McDonald’s All-American Game and Nike Hoop Summit, but that didn’t stop him from being talked about as a potential pro.

    “He has an NBA body right now,” New York City-based recruiting guru Tom Konchalski told SNY.tv Friday night. “When you look at all the players when they were allowed to go straight from high school to the pros, the ones who had the most-immediate impact weren’t the Kobes, the Garnetts, they were the two Rookie of the Years back-to-back, Amar’e Stoudemire and LeBron James, in 2003 and 2004 because they had NBA bodies.

    “There was no physical adjustment going for them, skipping that level. He has great feet, he has great hands and a great feel for the game, so I think he is the most NBA-ready right now.”

    A year ago at the Jordan Brand Classic, the talk centered around the Class of 2014 having a slew of high-end big men, many of whom could end up as high picks in the 2015 NBA Draft. 

    The early word for the 2016 NBA Draft isn’t that one position may dominate the event, but that the top of the lottery could be full of one-and-done prospects.

    According to the latest 2016 mock draft from DraftExpress.com, the first seven picks are current high school seniors, including Simmons at No. 3. Toss in Centereach (N.Y.) Our Savior New American big man Cheick Diallo, and DraftExpress has eight high school seniors going in the first 14 picks.

    Uncommitted Marietta (Ga.) Wheeler wing Jaylen Brown had been the projected No. 1 for some time, but that recently changed to Kentucky-bound big man Skal Labissiere after a strong showing at the Nike Hoop Summit earlier this month. Brown is now at No. 2.

    “First off all, he is noticeably stronger because I hadn’t seen him since last summer,” Konchalski said of Labissiere. “That’s what he really needs to work on and he’s going to a program that’s really going to push him. He’s a kid who has a lot of skill, but he needs someone to drive him like a Coach Calipari, so he’s going to a good program for himself. Whether he’s going to be ready after a year, who knows, but the longer he stays, the more ready he’ll be for the NBA.”

    After a strong few weeks in which he played at the Nike Hoops Summit in between winning MVP at McDonald’s and the Jordan Brand Classic, Diallo, who is considering Iowa State, St. John’s, Kentucky, Kansas and Pittsburgh, may prove to be an intriguing pro prospect over the next year.

    That said, he is still raw, having only played basketball since 2011 after growing up playing soccer in Mali.

    “Cheick, he’s got to improve his offense,” Konchalski said. “He’s a warrior, he runs the court so hard and he just battles. He’s very, very good, but he has to improve his offense. I don’t think he’s going to be ready offensively in a year.

    “Cheick might be No. 2 in this class, not because of his skill-level so much, but because of his activity-level. I wouldn’t have said that during the season,”

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