NBA Draft '19: Darius Bazley Season Preview
They say that all roads lead to Rome.
When it comes to professional basketball, we are fascinated by stories of people that take an unconventional path to the top tier of competition. Players like John Starks, Dennis Rodman, & Jonathan Simmons are beloved fan favorites as much for their journeys & perseverance as for their on-court skills. The NBA certainly loves these stories; all of the publicity for the G-League touts the idea that it will one day rival NCAA basketball as a development pathway for NBA prospects. Top-rated Ohio prospect Darius Bazley wholly believes in this idea already & is banking on the G-League being his ticket to the big time.
Originally from Cincinnati, 6-foot-9 forward Bazley first drew the attention of national college scouts during his time at Princeton High School. After averaging 15 ppg, 10 rpg, & 2 bpg, he was invited to & the Jordan Classic, The Nike Hoop Summit, & the McDonald's All-American Game, where he caught the eye of Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. An invitation to join the Orange men followed, then a commitment, then a bombshell; Bazley rescinded his commitment to Syracuse & declared himself eligible for the G-League Draft (the first high schooler to do so since Latavious Williams in 2009.)
At 200lbs, Bazley needs to cultivate some mass if he wants to trouble the grown men he’ll be playing against in the post. Until then, he’ll need to rely on his smarts & efficiency - traits he is already displaying on a regular basis. Scouts at the Jordan Classic raved about his efficiency & ability to fit seamlessly into a five-man offense, as well as his desire to rebound everything within a five-mile radius. With a game comprised of superb rim-running, clean hands, & high-percentage finishing at the rim, Bazley knows who he is & doesn’t try to stray out of what he considers his lanes.
On defense, Bazley’s motor really shines. His good positioning helps to counter his lack of bulk, & he uses his 6-foot-11 wingspan & impeccable timing to block shots with ease. He is also blessed with fast enough feet to stay in front of perimeter players when switching. Being a lefty also gives him the ability to close out from angles that opponents aren’t always expecting. Bazley comes across as an intelligent player who reads the game more quickly than others, which should allow him to adapt to any type of offensive set that he encounters.
Choosing professional basketball over the NCAA is a big call; while other players have entered the league via various international leagues, they are still the exceptions & not the rule. However, the growth of the G-League & potential changes to draft eligibility for NCAA players may pave the way for a new path to the NBA becoming the norm. Darius Bazley plans to be the first to walk that path.