Lost in a crowded day of early-entry declarations (Stephen Curry, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington) last week was a curious statement from UConn freshman Ater Majok, announcing his intentions to enter his name in the 2009 NBA draft.
A very highly touted high school recruit (#13 Rivals, #28 Scout), Majok didnt play a single game for UConn this past season, as question marks about his transcript did not allow him to even practice until the end of the first semester. His transcript is obviously a bit more complicated than most, as he hails from the Sudan, spent time in an Egyptian refugee camp, and also lived in Australia. He wont be eligible to actually play until the second semester of this upcoming season.
With that in mind, Majok decided to enter his name in the draft regardless, reportedly under pressure from his family, who were disappointed in how little exposure he received this past season. He will conduct private workouts with NBA and likely elects to return to Connecticut when its all said and done, but he no longer will have the option of testing the waters next year or later, since he already decided to burn his lone draft card.
We had a chance to watch Majok work out at the Adidas Nations camp, and also were able to speak to others who have evaluated him closely and more recently, specifically an NBA scout that spent time recently watching UConn practice.
From what weve seen and can gather, Majok will always be considered an interesting prospect thanks to his excellent combination of size (6-10), terrific length, and the competitiveness he brings to the floor. While he fancies himself somewhat of a small forward prospect, his skill-level is extremely limited at the moment by how raw of a player he is. He lacks a great deal of strength, balance and coordination, and possesses very little in the ways of experience or feel for the game. His perimeter jumper is incredibly streaky and he struggles to finish around the basket in traffic. Defensively, he appears to be a long ways away from contributing, beyond his ability to hit the glass, as he just doesnt have a great understanding of how to operate on this end of the floor. Since he only began practicing with UConn in January, hes obviously still very much beyond the curve. Athletically, he is solid, but not out of this world, looking somewhat stiff in his movements at times.
Majok is the type of player who could very well develop into an interesting prospect in the next few years, but hes way too far off from contributing to even be thinking about the NBA at this point, as weak as this draft may seem. Any team that even considers drafting him would only want to do so with the intent of stashing him overseas for the next few years.