Jamaicans Gill, Richards hope to hear their names called in tonight's NBA Draft
Daniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
National basketballers Romaro Gill and Nick Richards will hope to realise their NBA dreams, when the 2020 NBA draft takes place on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. from the ESPN studios in Bristol, Connecticut.
Both players had their collegiate careers end in abrupt circumstances because of the Coronavirus pandemic and its role in the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
The 26-year-old Gill, who hails from St Thomas, was named the Big East Conference Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player, leading the conference in blocks per game in his senior year with Seton Hall University.
In an interview with NJ Advance Media on November 9, his agent, Steve McCaskill said that the Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz and the San Antonio Spurs are the teams that "seem to like him the most." He also reportedly took ZOOM meetings with several teams this summer including the New York Knicks.
National senior coach Rick Turner believes that despite the lack of classic centres in the modern game, Gill is an attractive prospect for teams in the league.
"In some respects, the traditional back to the basket post-up player has lost its favour in the league currently. He's not that type of guy anyway. He's more of a defensive presence that can run rim-to-rim, rebound, finish and has good hands. He can play the ball screen," Turner told The Gleaner. "There are lots of opportunities for Gill to find his way onto a basketball floor and I fully expect him to be on an NBA Roster."
Meanwhile Richards, a Jamaica College alum, is projected to go to the Oklahoma City Thunder (OKC) as the 53rd pick, according to Athletic writer Sam Vecenie in his latest mock draft. In a November 16 article, Athletic writer Erik Horne says that the 22-year-old could become a promising talent, with OKC centre Nerlens Noel expected to test the free agency market.
"Richards profiles as a good athlete for his size and he averaged 4.5 blocks per 100 possessions in his three-year career at Kentucky. He's not Nerlens Noel but like Noel, Richards is doing most of his work within five feet of the rim," Horne said. "With Noel hitting free agency, Richards could be a nice developmental centre prospect behind Steven Adams."
Another Athletic writer, Alex Schiffer has Richards as a possible option for the Brooklyn Nets should they keep their 55th pick.
"Now is a good time to be a Wildcat in the draft and Richards could provide depth for the Nets at centre behind DeAndre Jordan, especially if Jarrett Allen is traded away," said Schiffer.
Former under 17 team manager Gordon Porter says that wherever they end up, it could lead to an increase in recruitment of local talent if they are successful in the league.