Darius Bazley’s situation has arguably been the most bizarre situation we’ve seen in any season of basketball in the past decade. The 2019 NBA Draft prospect committed to two different programs and one professional organization, but de-committed from all three shortly after. After hiring super agent Rich Paul, some things changed for Bazley. Instead of playing and showcasing his skills to the NBA, he decided to take the year off from organized basketball and take an internship and then a shoe deal with New Balance. The internship was worth one million over three months with the company. In the meantime, Bazley decided to train on his own for the 2019 NBA Draft.
The Sharonville, Ohio bred prospect committed to The Ohio State University in July of 2016. Roughly six months later, he decommitted due to a desire for “a bigger stage“. He then announced his commitment to the Syracuse Orange, signing a letter of intent.
On March 30th, 2018 Bazley announced his decision to forgo his eligibility for NCAA basketball and join the NBA G-League directly out of high school. Bazley had been dubbed “the face of the end of one-and-done” due to his decision. He gained support and scrutiny for his actions from many across the NCAA including Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. He stated “I hope he does great. But I don’t think it’s the way it will be. I think it will be proven it’s not the way to get to the NBA.”
So what can we expect from the seemingly super talented big man? There’s not much to go off of but what we do know does tantalize many hoping to get a steal late in the draft.
Athleticism and Versatility
At the NBA Combine, Bazley measured in at 6’10 with a 7’0 wingspan and an 8’11 standing reach. For most players this size, coordination tends to be a problem but, not with Bazley. He possesses the ability to fight for a rebound and control it all the way down the floor. While his speed, quick first step, and pull up ability allow him to beat defenders and hit shots.
At the Klutch Sports Pro Day, watching Darius Bazley and Talen Horton-Tucker working out in front of Darius Garland and LeBron James in front of a slew of NBA executives. Bazley in particular looks extremely impressive on first glance. pic.twitter.com/MFccQtfwTt
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 28, 2019
Analysts have Bazley all over the board. Mock drafts have him as high as 13 to the Miami Heat, but even then it was labeled as “extremely high risk for a decently high reward for a team desperate to jump back into East contention.”
We at Def Pen Hoops have him projected at 43 to the Timberwolves, which is a safe bet assuming there won’t be trades upon trades on draft night. (spoiler: there will be)
Exposure. Skipping college and any chance to play organized basketball might have been a good decision at the time, but it’s hurt his chances at being drafted in the lottery or even the first round. Bazley has fallen to the early second round on nearly every credible draft profile, draft board, or report in the country.
Un-coached. While Bazley has an incredibly high ceiling, his play style and maturity haven’t had the chance to be molded by a top-tier college or professional coaching staff. Taking the year off allowed him to develop his talent and body figure but he lacks molding heading into the league. It’s a minor intangible that can be easily fixed in the right system.
Competition. The only talent we have to compare him against in game to game situations are those of the McDonalds All-American game over a year ago and the 2019 NBA Draft Combine scrimmages, which are normally only played in by players who need to showcase themselves more.
2019 NBA Draft Player Comparison: Evan Turner
With the body type and measurements, Bazley has been compared to players such as Paul George, Jayson Tatum, and Thaddeus Young. With wingspan and standing reach at least one inch longer than each of those players. Is the comparison perfect? Not exactly but it’s hard to find the perfect match without overreaching given the lack of film study available.
But when talking about how he plays his game, his comparison is more closely an Evan Turner. Turner has been held as one of the more reliable ball handling, playmaking wing in the league for years despite his many critics.
Bazley possesses many of these unselfish qualities and with the right coaching, could possibly become a star on whatever team decides to take a chance on him.