NBA

How Oregon commit N’Faly Dante could affect the 2020 NBA Draft

After quite a bit of speculation over the last year or so, N’Faly Dante made it official and reclassified to the high school class of 2019, announcing his intentions to do so in the Players’ Tribune.

Dante stressed the sacrifices his mother made for him in the article growing up in Bamako, Mali. He highlighted the work it took for him to be considered one of the nation’s top basketball prospects playing for Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas.

As far as where he is heading next year, Dante decided to commit to the University of Oregon, netting the Ducks a late five-star commitment and bolstering what should be a deep frontcourt next year.

Dante is a 6’11 center who measured in at the 2019 Nike Hoop Summit at 249 lbs with a 7’5.5 wingspan and a 9’5 standing reach. To give an idea of just how elite Dante is in terms of measurements, Bol Bol measured in with two inches more in wingspan and standing reach at the NBA Draft Combine, weighing in at only 208 lbs. Strength and agility are both going to be areas of focus for Dante, but he should be physically ready to contribute in college.

It was only one month ago where Dante was a pivotal force for his EYBL team, MoKan Elite, after winning the 2019 Peach Jam. Among the EYBL leaders in rebounds and blocked shots throughout the season, Dante led the Peach Jam in rebounds per game, including a 22-point, 18-rebound performance in the 85-84 win over Team WhyNot in the Finals.

His EYBL season averages through 19 games were 15.8 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks on 72.2 percent shooting from the field and 60.5 percent from the free-throw line free throw percentage. In six games at the Peach Jam, Dante posted averages of 18.7 points, 13.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. He had stated during the Nike Hoop Summit that it was his ultimate goal to win the Peach Jam, and he put in the work to live up to his aspiration.

Dante may not be a stretch big just yet and relied a lot on opportunities close to the hoop. He still displayed solid touch, an ability to score without the ball and he seems to be catching up with the speed of the game. He showed an ability to be dangerous cutting to the hoop and in the pick-and-roll, which have become staples of modern big man offense.

Though the first 2020 NBA Mock Draft by Rookie Wire has already been released, future editions could certainly have Dante in the mix. He is a strong rebounder who can provide rim protection and has a lot of upside near the hoop. His shooting is not at all a lost cause and while he will need to work on stretching his range and upping his free-throw percentage, his touch near the hoop provides some promise of upside.

With a lot of question marks surrounding the big men entering the 2020 NBA Draft, the 17-year-old has a chance to move his name up if he can continue to improve in terms of lateral quickness and offensive acumen. He impressed NBA personnel at the last two Nike Hoop Summits, and it certainly seems like Oregon must have grown on him as well. He should see immediate playing time and while Oregon has a number of players in the run to start in the frontcourt, Dante should likely end up as the starting center when it is all said and done.

During the Nike Hoop Summit, Dante had been looking hard at schools such as Oregon, but also Kentucky, Kansas (where Malian big man and current Phoenix Suns player, Cheick Diallo, had played) and LSU. Dante had stressed he wanted to work on his shot, but also needed a lot of work on other aspects of his game. It was truly up in the air whether he would reclassify to 2019, however, it was being taken as a serious possibility.

With his reclassification, Dante moved to 14 in the 247 Composite rankings for 2019, which makes him a firm five-star prospect and puts him in “one-and-done” range. While he will need to stress increased lateral movement and nuances including keeping the ball high after rebounds, his talent as an overall rebounder, rim protector and finisher around the hoop should have him in 2020 NBA draft conversations. His elite size could do wonders in shortening the learning curve.

Dante now has Oregon at 12 scholarship players next season, although two will be transfers who will be sitting out the 2019-20 season. With one scholarship remaining, Oregon is in the running for another highly rated 2020 prospect who could reclassify to 2019: Canadian wing Addison Patterson. He is currently rated 35th by 247 Sports in the class of 2020 and is set to announce his intentions in the coming week. Patterson also played for Team WhyNot, who finished as the runner-up in the 2019 Nike EYBL Peach Jam.

Given that Oregon was at six scholarship players heading into the summer, these late additions have taken them from a projected middle-of-the-pack team in the Pac-12 to once again competing for the league’s title.

Given their blistering 10-game winning streak at the end of last season before falling to eventual champion Virginia in the Sweet 16, Oregon adding a Peach Jam champion certainly helps their odds of a possible upward progression.



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