Having no draft picks didn’t stop the Dallas Mavericks from handpicking young talent in the 2021 NBA Draft class. There just wasn’t the show of putting on the hat and shaking the commissioner’s hand.
Of the undrafted rookie free agents Dallas signed, the four notable players are Eugene Omoruyi out of Oregon, EJ Onu out of Shawnee State, Carlik Jones out of Louisville and Feron Hunt out of SMU.
Each player brings a different element to the table for Dallas. And one can assume that they will all get shot to prove they belong on the roster in the NBA Summer League that is scheduled to start on Aug. 8.
“For the Summer League roster, we just want the best players we can get,” general manager Nico Harrison said after the draft. “We want to make sure they get the best possible chance to play at the highest level. We are looking for versatility. And we are looking for length with athleticism.”
With versatility in mind, the four players Dallas brought in on draft night fit the bill. Here is a little look at what each player has to offer going forward.
Eugene Omoruyi, forward, Oregon:
Omoruyi spent his first three seasons in college basketball playing for Rutgers. While there, he was named an honorable mention for the conference. In 2019-20, Omoruyi transferred to Oregon and sat out due to an injury and the NCAA’s transfer rules. But once he was eligible to play, he proved worth the wait.
In his final year playing for the Ducks, he averaged 17.3 points per game while shooting 47 percent from the field. The name of his game was consistency, scoring at least 10 points in all but two games of the season. He was also the only Oregon player to start all 28 games of the season.
Finally, in the NCAA Tournament, Omoruyi averaged 22 points per game. Showing that when the games matter most, he takes his play to another level. With a two-way deal, Mavericks fans can expect Omoruyi to spend time in the NBA G League. But don’t be surprised if he gets an opportunity to prove himself during the course of an NBA season.
EJ Onu, center, Shawnee State:
Onu’s name may not be a household one. But the talent he possesses has the ability to change that.
Onu flew under most draft radars because Shawnee State isn’t necessarily in the same class as Duke. It is actually an NAIA school. However, at 6-foot-11, with solid fundamentals and a consistent jump shot, Onu might be an undrafted steal for the Mavericks moving forward.
He averaged nearly 17 points per game (16.9), 7.9 rebounds and an astronomical 5.7 blocks. From the field, he shot 57 percent. And from three, he shot 40 percent.
It’s not as if Onu was toiling away in obscurity with no one acknowledging his talent. By his second season at Shawnee State, he was getting high-major interest at the NCAA Division I level. He chose to stay put because of his relationship with Shawnee State head coach Delano Thomas.
His decision appears to have worked out. He got a contract at the NBA level. Now he has to prove that he is worthy of a roster spot.
Carlick Jones, guard, Lousiville:
Jones, at 6-foot-1, is a bit undersized, but he can score with the best of them.
During his lone season at Lousiville, he averaged 16.8 points per game on 40 percent from the field and 32 percent from three.
He was named First-Team All-ACC for his play. And he produced in a number of moments where he scored crucial baskets for the Cardinals when the games hung in the balance.
Before Jones’ year playing for Lousiville, he was regarded as one of the top players in the country at Radford. His junior year playing in the Big South was his best. He averaged 20 points per game and 5.5 assists. He added 5.1 rebounds per game, which is impressive because he is a relatively undersized guard.
Feron Hunt, forward, SMU:
Hunt playing his college ball at SMU makes him a local kid. But that element of him doesn’t negate the fact that he is still very raw when it comes to basketball.
He averaged 11 points per game and 8.7 rebounds. His call to basketball is found in his athleticism.
At best, Hunt seems to know his role and doesn’t force the issue. He’s not much of an outside shooter, but shows good shot selection and is efficient with his touches – doing most of his damage in the paint, or slashing to the basket. He’s a decent free throw shooter and could develop an outside shot in time.
He’s far from ready to impact the Mavericks as an everyday player. But with the right tutelage and commitment to getting better, the local kid could make right on playing for the hometown franchise.
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Feature image via Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports.