Prospect Breakdowns

Players to Watch at Portsmouth (Part Two): Wilder, Lual-Acuil, Gray, Williams, Clark

Rob Gray NBA Draft
Written by Josh Stirn

The Portsmouth Invitation Tournament will be held this week from April 11-14. It brings 64 of college basketball’s top seniors together for a chance to impress professional scouts. We took a look at five participants of note Tuesday; here’s five more to keep an eye on.

Thomas Wilder (Western Michigan) 6’3, 190 lbs PG

Wilder made a name for himself at Adidas Nations last summer, but the 6-foot-3 point guard from Western Michigan remains slept on in draft circles. He has a prime opportunity to change that at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament as Wilder certainly has better physical attributes than most in attendance. Wilder has NBA length, quickness and explosiveness and ranked in the 84th percentile in pick-and-roll efficiency this season. Although he plays out of control at times, he’s almost impossible to keep out of the lane and finishes at a respectable 53.5 percent around the basket, per Synergy Sports. That number could improve with better shot selection and added strength. Wilder shot 79 percent or better from the line each of the past three seasons, but his three-point percentage dropped from 44.4 percent to 32.4 percent this past season. According to Synergy Sports, Wilder shot well off the bounce and when he was unguarded but struggled in contested catch-and-shoot situations. In the NBA, he projects more as a change of pace playmaker who’d fit best on an up-tempo team. His athleticism and wingspan give him plenty of defensive potential. A strong showing at Portsmouth could get Wilder drafted.

Kenrich Williams (TCU) 6’7, 210 lbs SF

Williams’ combination of three-point shooting and rebounding at the wing position make him an intriguing sleeper prospect. He is a bit of a defensive tweener, but he can add value on the glass. At TCU, he spent time at both forward positions and also showed some ability in the pick-and-roll. He ranked in the 82nd percentile nationally both around the rim and in catch-and-shoot situations. With impressive feel on offense, and the ability to convert shots at the two biggest hot spot areas in the NBA, Williams’ shot chart is an analytics dream.  He could fill a similar role as Landry Fields as someone who spreads the floor, facilitates a bit off the dribble and contributes on the glass. He’s smart enough to get by defensively in the right system.

Rob Gray (Houston) 6’1, 185 lbs PG

Gray earned attention for his man bun during the NCAA Tournament, but his production over the last three years has him on the NBA radar. Gray is an unspectacular looking athlete with less than ideal measurables who’s already 24, so he clearly faces an uphill battle to make the NBA, but he plays with supreme confidence, excels as a playmaker in ball screen situations and shoots well off the dribble from anywhere on the court. He was more of an undersized two-guard in his first two years at Houston, but he showed more point guard skills as a senior, averaging 1.5 assists more per game while his turnovers remained the same. Gray’s craftiness and ability to finish with both hands helped him shoot 57.8 percent around the rim, good enough for the 75th percentile nationally according to Synergy Sports. He isn’t likely to get drafted, but he’ll have plenty of eyes on him in Portsmouth.

Jo Lual-Acuil (Baylor) 7’0, 225 lbs C

Lual-Acuil is a flawed 7-foot center prospect — he wouldn’t be playing in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament if he wasn’t — but he offers some upside relative to his class as he only began playing basketball in 11th grade. Lual-Acuil has a strong work ethic by all accounts which helped him becoming Baylor’s leading rebounder and second-leading scorer as a senior. He has good coordination for his size, although he can be knocked off balance, and he isn’t limited to simple back-to-the-basket moves. Lual-Acuil can pass out of the post and faceup and take defenders off the dribble occasionally as well. However, he isn’t the most explosive athlete or the strongest. He has to gather himself before going up for dunks, which is concerning. He plays with energy and solid toughness, but he needs to continue to put on weight, something he’s done since he entered college at less than 200 pounds. Despite his lack of strength, Lual-Acuil ranked in the 83th percentile nationally in post defense. He has a 7-foot-3 wingspan and affects a lot of shots around the rim, but he has to get more comfortable in space, especially since he spent a lot of time playing zone at Baylor. His development as a pick-and-roll defender will likely play a big role in whether he gets a shot at the NBA. As things stand, he is still probably a couple years away from having a shot to contribute at the next level, but he’s an intriguing potential UDFA that could be developed in the G-League.

Gary Clark (Cincinnati) 6’8, 225 lbs PF 

Clark, a North Carolina native, was a top-100 recruit out of high school but wasn’t heavily recruited by top programs in the area because he was 6-foot-7 and couldn’t shoot. So Clark ended up at Cincinnati, where as a senior he shot nearly 44 percent from three; won American Athletic Conference Player of the Year; and led his team to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. As his resume suggest, Clark is hard worker with glue guy potential at the next level. He’s a long, active defender who can guard multiple positions and a strong rebounder — the second-best to come through the Cincinnati program. Clark is still undersized for the four spot and his jumper is mechanical and slow, but there will be plenty of NBA teams willing to give him a shot this summer even if he goes undrafted.

About the author

Josh Stirn

When Josh Stirn was in high school, he covered the NBA Draft as a hobby, uncovering hidden gems like Jimmy Butler, Robert Covington and Kent Bazemore. Now, after covering high school and college basketball for 247Sports since 2013, he's back on the draft scene with more first-hand scouting and evaluating experience than before to fall back on. He's closely followed and scouted the draft for over a decade now and combines the eye test, analytics and past history to form accurate reports on prospects. He enjoys studying fringe prospects just as much -- if not more -- than the next NBA superstar.

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