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City 6 (and more) NBA Stock Watch

01/26/2015, 1:15pm EST
By Josh Verlin & Garrett Miley

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin) &
Garrett Miley (@GWMiley)

The recent success of Langston Galloway with the New York Knicks got us thinking about which current area college player could be the next one up to make an impact in the NBA.

For those who haven't been paying attention, Galloway--who graduated from Saint Joseph's last spring as the second-leading scorer in SJU history--went undrafted before ending up in the New York Knicks system, playing with the D-League's Westchester Knicks in that team's inaugural season.

He earned a call-up to the NBA's worst team earlier this month and has averaged 12.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg and 3.0 apg in his first eight NBA games, playing well enough that it seems likely he'll hang on with the New York Knicks, playing his home games at Madison Square Garden, for at least the remainder of the season.

Though the area's college programs have plenty of very talented college players, there aren't too many who are current draft board standouts or any one-and-done talents. But there are a few who, with continued progress, could earn their way into a role in the Association.

Here are the players in CoBL's coverage area who have the best chance to make it in the NBA, with Garrett's thoughts on the closest current comparison:

1) Daniel Ochefu, Jr., Villanova
In just two years, this 6-foot-11, 250-pound center has gone from a slightly awkward freshman who seemed stiff on the court to one of the more agile, skilled big men in the Big East Conference. Ochefu always had a high basketball IQ and a fantastic ability to pass out of the post, but it took him his first year-and-a-half of Division I basketball before he really started to feel comfortable, and now he's really starting to show that his game could translate at the next level. His averages went from 5.7 ppg and 6.1 rpg as a sophomore to 10.0 and 8.4 as a junior, and though his minutes are rising his fouls have dropped.

If Ochefu is going to make it in the NBA, the one thing he's going to have to show teams is that he can develop some kind of a mid-range game. His passing ability and 70.6 percent free-throw shooting suggests that it's something he's capable of with continued work, though his bread-and-butter will always be his hook shot. With another year of development, Ochefu is going to get some looks at the next level thanks to his size, passing ability and rebounding; those traits could make him valuable enough to carve out a solid pro career.

NBA Comparison: Theo Ratliff


2) DeAndre Bembry, Soph., Saint Joseph's
Bembry has been the lone bright spot in a rough season for a young Hawks squad, with SJU head coach Phil Martelli going so far to say that his star wing would be an All-American candidate if his team had a few more wins under the belt. He's had to take a lot under his belt, leading the team in scoring (17.5 ppg), rebounding (6.4 rpg), assists (3.1 apg), steals (1.9 spg) and blocks (1.2 bpg) while shooting a respectable 44 percent from the floor. If he keeps this up, by the time he leaves Hawk Hill he should make a few Atlantic 10 first teams and has a good chance to pick up an MVP award or two.

At 6-6, Bembry has the requisite size and athleticism to play out on the wing in the NBA. One thing that will certainly have to improve is his 3-point shooting; he's currently making 34.3 percent of his long-range attempts, though as the best 3-point shooter on the team (only two Hawks are above 30 percent from beyond the arc) he's rarely able to get open looks in rhythm, so that number could come up when he's not the focal point of an offense and with continued reps.

NBA Comparison: Trevor Ariza


3) Josh Hart, Soph., Villanova
It's going to be interesting to see where Hart's career progression takes him, but so far he has all the makings of a kid who's going to just keep getting better and better throughout his four years on the Main Line. His numbers didn't take a huge jump from freshman (7.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg) to sophomore (9.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg), though his 3-point percentage took a nice jump, from 31.3 percent to 40.4 percent even on increased attempts. With the Wildcats' offense getting its strength from the sum of its parts, don't expect Hart to be the kind of guy who averages 20 ppg by his senior year, but games like a 21-point outing against Syracuse (on just seven shots!) shows that Hart knows how to score with efficiency

Though Jay Wright has done a great job of bringing talented guards to 'Nova, so far that hasn't turned into a ton of success in the NBA--with the exception of Kyle Lowry, who went from Cardinal Dougherty to NBA All-Star, earning a nod this year with his best season yet as a pro. Considering Hart's a little small for a wing at 6-5, his best chance to make it in the Association is as a knockdown perimeter shooter who can guard the '1' through '3' on the defensive end and crashes the glass well, traits he already brings to the court as a Wildcat.

NBA Comparison: Tony Allen


4) Obi Enechionyia, Fr., Temple
This is definitely the biggest wild-card selection on the list, considering Enechionyia's only starting to scratch the surface of his potential. The young forward is averaging 4.2 ppg and 3.6 rpg in just under 18 minutes per game as a freshman, but he's done a few things on the court that have really opened some eyes. His 25 blocks lead the team; he actually blocks 7.8 percent of opponents' shots while he's on the floor, which puts him in the top 100 players in the country, according to KenPom.

The reason Enechionyia sits so high on this list despite showing far less production than anybody else around him is because of that versatility he's shown on the court. At his size (6-8, 220 pounds), he projects as a combo forward who can handle the ball around the perimeter and guard almost every position on the court, whether it's keeping a guard in front of him or serving as a capable shot-blocking presence in the post. As he fills out his frame and expands his offensive range, we'll see just how high his ceiling can rise.

NBA Comparison: Al-Farouq Aminu


5) D.J. Newbill, Sr., Penn State
Newbill doesn't look like a prototypical NBA guard, but it's hard to deny the productive he's had since arriving at State College. He's played both guard spots in his years as a Nittany Lion, which will help him as he tries to impress an NBA team, but it's still unclear whether he's a somewhat unconventional shooting guard or a bigger point guard who can really score it. At 6-4 and 210 pounds, the Strawberry Mansion guard won't have a problem with the physicality of the NBA, but whether or not he's got the food speed to keep point guards like John Wall in front of him remains to be seen. Like Galloway, though, his production might be too much to pass on.

Newbill has had an extremely impressive senior season, averaging 22.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.1 apg and 1.5 spg, shooting a respectable 35.6 percent on 3-point attempts and 47.6 percent overall. Beyond Newbill, Penn State has struggled to find a consistent secondary scoring option, but he hasn't really seemed to mind too much, as he's scored in double figures in every single game so far this season. He also shows up in big games, scoring 27 against Michigan State and 29 at Wisconsin, going up against a few other NBA prospects in doing so. He'll find his way onto a summer league roster, and should end up in the D-League with a team who's looking for scoring help in the backcourt.

NBA Comparison: Randy Foye


6) Damion Lee, R-Jr., Drexel
Similar to Bembry and Newbill, Lee is putting up monster numbers on a team without much success to this point in 2015. And while we put Lee behind Newbill and Bembry on our list, Lee is the best pure scorer coming out of the city. The 6-6 guard is averaging just over 20 ppg this season and shooting a career best 39.1 percent from beyond the three point line, while also corralling a career high 6.2 rpg. Even with opposing defenses keying off on him, Lee's become a good enough shooter and scorer to get his looks in minimal space, which will help him at the next level.

Lee transitioned his game from Calvert Hall (Md.) t0 Drexel with ease and averaged 17.1 ppg in his freshman season as a Dragon. He's continued to score the ball while improving other aspects of his game over the last two seasons and has a legitimate chance to end up on a NBA Summer League team in either Orlando or Las Vegas and strut his stuff for an NBA franchise much like his former teammate Frantz Massenant was able to do for the Washington Wizards' summer league team a year ago. If he can be a 40 percent 3-point shooter from the NBA range, his size and length could keep him on a roster.

NBA Comparison: J.R. Smith


7) Tim Kempton, Soph., Lehigh
When Lehigh's C.J. McCollum and Bucknell's Mike Muscala got picked in the 2013 NBA Draft, they were the first two players ever to get picked coming out of the Patriot League. It's unlikely that those two are going to turn the high-academic Northeast conference into a one-and-done type of league, but the way the Patriot is trending, they likely won't be the only two pros to come out of the 10 teams over the next few years. And it would make sense if one of the next young athletes to do so is one whose father played in the NBA, as Tim Kempton, Sr. did for 12 years in the 1980s and 90s.

The younger Kempton is an inch taller than his dad at 6-11, though at 225 pounds he still needs to put on some muscle to match his dad's 245-pound frame. Still an underclassman with more than two years of development ahead of him, he's already demonstrated the ability to step out and shoot a 17-footer, and even made his first career 3-pointer (on his first attempt) this past weekend. By the time he graduates from the Bethlehem school, he's got a chance to be one of the best players to ever wear the Lehigh uniform. If he can continue to develop his face-up game, Kempton could certainly find minutes as a face-up PF/C who can run the floor, rebound and hit an open jumper.

NBA Comparison: Meyers Leonard


8) Darrun Hilliard, Sr., Villanova
Yes, a third Villanova player on the list--and it could just as easily have been redshirt junior guard Dylan Ennis, whose brother Tyler was a first-round selection last year. Hilliard has many of the tools that NBA team look for when rounding out their rosters. His shooting stroke, experience, and winning resume could land him a shot on an NBA roster at some point during his professional career. His numbers have dipped somewhat from his junior (14.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg) to senior year (13.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg), but that's also with a slight decline in minutes on a deeper 'Nova team that has steamrolled more than a few opponents.

A double-figure scorer for his final three seasons as a Wildcat, the lefthander has made significant strides behind the arc since his freshman year (.292) and is now a consistent 3-3-point shooter who's made 40 percent of his long-range attempts over the last two seasons. He's still not a plus ballhandler or shot-creator, though he knows how to use his frame to draw contact and get to the rim. He also limits his turnovers and takes smart shots, which NBA scouts will like, but it's unclear whether he would be able to get buckets against high-level NBA defenders. Still, look for Hilliard to work his way onto a summer league roster and get a chance to surprise some people.

NBA Comparison: Wayne Ellington


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