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Insider

What about these guys?

2/23/2010

Wesley Matthews was not selected in June's NBA draft, yet he plays for the Utah Jazz and has seen action in 55 games, playing more than 20 minutes in 35 of them.

Matthews was a four-year starter for Marquette in arguably the most publicized league in college basketball, the Big East. He played his senior year in what some experts believe to be the most competitive conference in college basketball history. He ended his career as the No. 8 scorer in one of college basketball's most storied programs. And his bloodlines were excellent -- his father played nine seasons in the NBA. How did he get overlooked?

Currently there are a number of players in the college game who are having outstanding careers but are getting no love from NBA teams. Let's look at three of them and break down their chances of making an NBA roster.

Wayne Chism, F, Tennessee

Chism is the current SEC Player of the Week and is averaging 13 points and 7 rebounds. He is three wins away from being the Vols' all-time winningest player and is poised to help Bruce Pearl's club to a fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance. So how do his NBA prospects look at this point?

Well, he doesn't even crack our top 100, and that's probably justified. Chism, a senior, certainly looks like an active and athletic player in the SEC, but, in reality is a 6-foot-9 "below the rim" guy who relies on pump fakes and creating angles in Tennessee's offense to score inside. He has had trouble scoring over length in a league that has big, athletic post players. Recent games against Kentucky and Vanderbilt simulate what he would see in the NBA, and he was not effective in the low post in either game.

Chism, in many ways, is a product of Tennessee's well-executed offense, taking advantage of flex cuts and backscreens to get layups and open jump shots, especially behind the arc. He also trails the fast break and is not hesitant to shoot the 3-pointer in transition, making 34 percent of his 67 attempts this season. And, his lack of ballhandling skills is hidden because he stays within the offense and is rarely in a one-on-one situation away from the basket.

Ultimately, Chism has been a very productive player for the Vols, and he is likely get a chance to show his wares in pre-draft workouts. Unfortunately, I do not think he possesses one particular skill that is NBA-ready.

Greivis Vasquez, G, Maryland

Think about what Vasquez has accomplished at Maryland. He is the only player in ACC history to score 2,000 points, record 700 assists and grab 600 rebounds. He's accomplished those numbers on a team that hasn't exactly surrounded him with outstanding talent, meaning that he has faced the brunt of every opponent's defense every night.

So, while he seems to have the size (6-5), skills and basketball acumen to be an NBA draft selection, he is rated No. 81 on our Big Board, as NBA teams remain skeptical of what he can produce at the next level. I think Vasquez has a chance to make an NBA roster, though.

First of all, he has good size for a point guard, is crafty with the ball and sees the court well. He also makes just enough shots to keep defenses honest when you leave him open. His athleticism is average at best, for the NBA, but he has made up for with his solid skill package.

He has as much freedom as any player in college basketball to create his own plays, but that freedom is a double-edged sword. He gets himself in situations where he tries to do too much. But with his team's limited overall talent, he is forced into making great plays and takes a lot of tough end-of-the-shot-clock attempts.

Last season, Vasquez dropped 35 points on eventual national champion North Carolina in the Terps' upset win. Gary Williams' confidence in Vasquez has paid off again this season as the Terps are riding the Venezuelan's shoulders into the NCAA tournament.

One intangible in Vasquez's favor is his passion for the game. While that passion hasn't endeared him to opposing fans in the ACC, it fuels a very competitive nature that has fit perfectly with his coach's personality. He loves playing and working at the game and he has been coached hard every day for four seasons. Any NBA coach, on the first day of training camp, will not be wondering, "Who coached this guy?" He'll be ready to compete and do whatever it takes to make an NBA roster.

Da'Sean Butler, G/F, West Virginia

Butler is considered an "old-school" player with sound fundamentals and a basketball IQ that belies a young player. On the other hand, it shouldn't be a surprise when you think that he's had the benefit of playing for two great college coaches -- John Beilein and Bob Huggins -- over four seasons. (I happen to know that he was well coached in high school, as well.)

Like Vasquez, Butler is a crafty player who is able to create for teammates and make tough shots despite being an average athlete. While he is not the pure guard that Vasquez is, he has become a primary playmaker in Huggins' five-man motion offense. He sees cutters well and is a solid passer. That's quite an achievement for a guy that arrived in Morgantown as a combo forward.

A mastery of fundamentals has given him excellent footwork, and he's also refined the step-back move to create space for his shot. Butler also moves well in the offense and is an effective catch-and-shoot player. According to Synergy Sports Technology, 65 percent of his shots in the half-court are jump shots and, while he is more accurate off the catch, he can pull-up off the dribble to either hand.

With good strength at 6-7, he can post up smaller players and get to the basket effectively. He draws more than five fouls per 40 minutes, according to kenpom.com, and makes almost 80 percent of his free throws.

If Butler hears his name called on draft night, it will likely be in the second round. Ultimately, he is what I describe as a "no-mistake guy" who can be counted on to be in the right spot on both ends of the court. That may be his greatest attribute. He'd fit into a team that is system-oriented like the Spurs or the Jazz. That's his best chance to make it. Just ask Wesley Matthews.