Mar 18, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Monte Morris (11) celebrates during the first half of the game against the Purdue Boilermakers in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports
The NBA Draft Combine gets underway in Chicago on Thursday and former Iowa State point guard Monte Morris is sure to be one of the most closely watched players of the 67 in attendance. The 6-foot-3 floor general is currently slated as a second round pick by most draft experts, but he’ll have a chance to turn heads against some of the other top prospects this weekend.
“I think he has to not play below his standards,” ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla said on this week’s episode of Cyclone Insider on 1460 KXNO. “In other words, he can’t just go out there when he does play five on five and lay an egg. I don’t think that’s going to happen. Monte will be one of the most heavily scouted guys at the combine from the standpoint of being on a national stage for four years, playing on some very, very good Cyclone teams, playing in big games on television, in the NCAA tournament. So I think teams know Monte Morris really, really well. I think they’re going to look to see how athletic he is in the testing. Although, I don’t think that matters all that much. They’re going to find out during the interview process that he’s the kind of standup guy that all of us have come to know. Unless he just goes out and turns it over 10 times in the scrimmage and goes 0-for-10, I think he’s written his own script already and I think he’s going to play in the NBA. He may not be a first round pick, but I do think he’s going to get drafted and I know teams, here’s what I’ve heard about him, winner, no mistakes, coach’s dream, every roster has three point guards. I think he’ll find a spot, I’ll be very surprised if he’s not on an NBA roster next year.”
Morris, who averaged 16.4 points, 6.2 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game as a senior for the Cyclones, is projected to be the No. 47 pick in the draft to the Milwaukee Bucks by DraftExpress. The first team All-Big 12 selection left Iowa State as the school’s all-time leader in steals and assists.
“Most of the guys that are going to get drafted, except for the top three, four or five, are looking to carve out a role,” Fraschilla said. “In a league with 450 players, there’s 420 role players. In Monte’s case, if he makes a team and he gets a chance to play, the likelihood early in his career is he’s going to be a backup point guard. If he’s the third point guard, he’s not going to play much early. He may even see a lot of the D-League. If he’s the backup point guard to the starter, you could expect him to play between 12 and 20 minutes a night. You know, run the team. Make sure everybody gets involved, which is something he’s really good at. From there, the more confidence a coach has in his play, the more he gets to play and prove himself. Again, if he were in the league for 10 years, even as a backup, A, that’s going to be a heck of an accomplishment, B, he’s going to make a heck of a lot of money. To give you an example, Kris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks, second round pick, he makes $15 million a year. It’s a good life if you can find that kind of work and you can prove yourself.”
You can catch the first day of the NBA Combine on ESPN2 starting at 2 p.m.
Morris’ five-on-five team, which includes Texas’ Andrew Jones, Arizona’s Kadeem Allen, Oregon’s Dillon Brooks, South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell, BYU’s Eric Mike, Kansas’ Svi Mykhaliuk, Nevada’s Cameron Oliver, Florida’s Devin Robinson and North Carolina State’s Omer Yurtseven, will play in the afternoon’s first televised game.
Here’s a few other notes from Fraschilla’s interview on Cyclone Insider:
On Iowa State signee Lindell Wigginton’s future:
*** “Well, he’s going to be a fan favorite, I think,” Fraschilla said. “He’s probably, I saw him at the Nike Hoop Summit, he’s probably 6-foot-3, built like a linebacker. Great going to the basket, because he is strong and powerful. Has got a good jump shot. He’s a scorer. He’s got a scorer’s mentality. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, because he can put the ball in the basket. Based on what I know about Iowa State’s recruiting class and with Donovan Jackson coming back, I think Lindell Wigginton, assuming he comes in ready to go and in shape and comes in coachable, which I’m assuming he will be, he should be an instant starter. If not, playing a lot of minutes early, because he has a gift for putting the ball in the basket. When I talked to him out in Portland, I said, ‘You know what you’re in for, right? This is a great place you’re going to and they love their hoops there.’ He seemed really excited by the challenge. If he steps in like I think he can, that’s going to be a pretty good Big 12 backcourt right off the bat.”
On Deonte Burton’s pro prospects:
*** “Boy, he’s got the talent,” Fraschilla said. “There’s no doubt. He’s such an outlier, because he’s 6-foot-5 and there aren’t many guys like him in the league. But, also, you don’t see that many guys come along every day that are that explosive, that strong and powerful and can shoot the ball from outside. My sense of Deonte is that he’s going to end up in the D-League to start. It’s not a knock on him at all. It’s like if you put a guy here in Des Moines, still the Cubs Triple-A team, right? There’s no shame in playing in Des Moines, because that means you’re one step away from the big leagues and Wrigley Field. I think, he’s probably going to be a D-League guy initially, unless he decides to go to Europe and play over there. Maybe, make a little bit more money. I think he’s an acquired taste that if he goes to the D-League and carves it up like he did college basketball, then I think that the doors may open for him. Initially, I think people, NBA teams, are going to look at him and say who does he guard, gets in foul trouble a lot, he’s a unique player. He plays like a big guy, but he’s not really a big guy. One of the questions they always ask is, with anybody coming into the league, is who can he guard. What position does he guard? I’m not sure he has a position he can guard just yet. They know about him. He’s going to get a long look. Probably be on a summer league team out in Vegas. I think he’ll be playing professional basketball.”