Rescheduled five months after its original June date because of COVID-19 concerns, the (virtual) 2020 NBA Draft will take place on Wednesday at ESPN headquarters in Connecticut, and a few college basketball players with California high school ties hope to hear their names called.
Sixty players will be taken during the two-round draft, which starts Wednesday at 4 p.m. PST. The draft will be televised on ESPN.
Here is a look at five former California high school basketball stars who are hoping to hear their names called:
LaMelo Ball, Illawarra Hawks (Chino Hills HS)
Measurables: 19 years old, Point Guard, 6-foot-7, 190 pounds
High School: Chino Hills (two years) and Spire Academy (one year)
Draft position: Projected Top 5 pick
The skinny: The youngest of the Ball brothers, LaMelo helped lead Chino Hills to an undefeated season and national No. 1 ranking as a freshman. As a sophomore, he scored 92 points in a game. After his second season at Chino Hills he left the school and played professionally in Lithuania and then in Australia for Illawarra in preparation for the NBA Draft.
NBA player comparison: Jason Williams/James Harden/Lonzo Ball
What the Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor says: “Passes like he’s on the Harlem Globetrotters, and it somehow works; he needs to dramatically improve his scoring efficiency, but he has the upside to become one of the NBA’s best playmakers.”
What his high school coach Steve Baik says: “What’s amazing is how people are questioning his shooting when from what I’ve seen as a coach, I think he’s going to be like a James Harden with his scoring ability. … I think he’s a better passer than most people give him credit for. He’s in that 1% of passers with the Lonzo’s, the Magic Johnson’s, the Jason Kidd’s. If he just focused on passing, he would dominate the game, but his strength is scoring, there’s no question about that. He’s pushing 6-8, which reminds me of James Harden, plus he’s still growing into his body.”
Onyeka Okongwu, USC (Chino Hills HS)
Measurables: 19 years old, Forward/Center, 6-foot-9, 245 pounds
High School: Chino Hills
Draft position: Projected Top 10 pick
The skinny: Okongwu averaged 16.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game as a freshman at USC. Both marks led the team. As a senior at Chino Hills, he led the Huskies (25-10) to their third Division I state title in his four seasons at the school. He was also on the 35-0 team in 2015-16 with LaMelo Ball. Both players were freshmen that year.
NBA player comparison: Bam Adebayo
What the Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor says: “Do-it-all big with rare versatility as a defender. Always competes and has a knack for making big plays.”
What his high school coach Steve Baik says: “He did things during his freshman year (of high school) that were just veteran plays that saved our season numerous times that year. … But the thing that really stood out about Onyeka was his poise and his maturity. He’s just one of those kids that just has that maturity about him, that makes him seem older.”
Cassius Stanley, Duke (Sierra Canyon HS)
Measurables: 21 years old, Wing, 6-foot-6, 193 pounds
High School: Sierra Canyon
Draft position: Projected second round pick
The skinny: Stanley was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team after averaging 12.6 points on .474 shooting and 4.9 rebounds in 29 starts at Duke. He led Sierra Canyon to the California Open Division State Championship his senior year, scoring 20 points and recording seven rebounds in the title game. At the NBA Combine, he registered a 44 inch max vertical, the third highest jump recorded since 2000.
NBA player comparison: Rodney Hood
What the Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor says: “Ridiculous athlete who competes hard, an encouraging mix for someone who has upside but needs improvement.”
Kenyon Martin Jr., IMG Academy (Sierra Canyon HS)
Measurables: 19 years old, Forward, 6-foot-6, 215 pounds
High School: Sierra Canyon and IMG Academy
Draft position: Projected late second-round pick
The skinny: Martin has incredible athleticism. He consistently wowed spectators at Sierra Canyon and IMG Academy with rim-shattering dunks and aggressive blocks. Martin averaged 16.4 points and nine rebounds per game as a senior at Sierra Canyon, while helping lead the Trailblazers to a CIF Open Division championship and a 32-3 record. He was a one-time Vanderbilt commit who instead of playing collegiately elected to take a prep year at IMG.
NBA player comparison: A smaller Jerami Grant
What The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie says: “Martin has such freaky athleticism and body control that it’s tough to look past him when looking for fliers to take on two-way deals.”
Malik Fitts, St. Mary’s (Damien HS and Brewster Academy)
Measurables: 23 years old, Forward, 6-foot-8, 230 pounds
High School: Damien High School and Brewster Academy
Draft position: Undrafted free agent
The skinny: Fitts won a CIF Division 3 state championship with Damien in 2015. He then did a prep year at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire before enrolling at South Florida. He played his freshman year for the Bulls before transferring to St. Mary’s, where he played the last two seasons. As a redshirt junior, Fitts was a First Team All-WCC selection. He was fourth in the conference in scoring (16.5) and sixth in rebounds (7.1).
NBA player comparison: Mike Scott
What The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie says: “For Fitts to stick, it’ll be in a 3-and-D role. He’s going to have to clean up his shooting release and make it a lot quicker.”