DeWayne Dedmon surprisingly declared for this year's NBA draft following a less-than-stellar season at USC. Alas, as seven-footers go, is he a project the NBA sees worthy of a draft pick?
Prior to the 2012-13 college season, I coined DeWayne Dedmon as my breakout star of the season. I was taking Kevin O'Neill at his word that Dedmon was a lottery pick in waiting and figured the athletic, true-five would succeed with a rejuvenated and healthy Jio Fontan. Well, as it were, Kevin O'Neill was fired and nothing much amounted of USC's season; Dedmon notwithstanding as he yielded some playing time to 7'2" teammate, Omar Oraby.
And with things tumultuous inside the Galen Center, it seems DeWayne is going to test the NBA waters his now departed coach felt he could.
So what does he look like as a prospect? He stands seven-feet tall (or damn close at 6'11.5") with a 7'4" wing span and a 32.5" vertical. In short, Dedmon is a specimen and that is why he's declared. This past season he averaged just 7 points and 7 rebounds in 22 minutes. He swatted away a pair of shots each night. His per game stats aren't going to wow you. But it should be noted he was in the top 50 in the nation in both defensive rebounding percentage and block percentage. The instincts are there.
But as of right now, they're just instincts.
Dedmon didn't take up basketball until well into high school. By "well into high school" I mean he didn't play until he was a 6'9" senior. He then found his way to Antelope Valley College before eventually making his way to USC. Sports Illustrated profiled his unique journey. It's worth a read.
Alas, what we ultimately find ourselves with here is what Dedmon's coaches at each of his stops along the way have found: a project. The question now becomes whether or not he is a worth-a-draft-pick kind of project. I recently read this article about Roy Hibbert in which the former Hoya is repeatedly referred to as one of many seven-foot-plus projects that the NBA tends to absorb. The case for being good by way of being tall is made. But Hibbert took it upon himself to break the mold, unstiffening his body and working to become not a project but an All-Star.
Can Dedmon find the same sort of skills or desire? Can he leverage his natural talents into a regular NBA paycheck? Or better yet, will an NBA team deem DeWayne worthy of their money? Or their draft pick?
Whatever the case, Dedmon will get a chance - be it in training camps or the development league.
He's too big not to.