Regardless of what happens this week, the NBA draft combine isn’t necessarily a make-or-break scenario for Jaylen Nowell.
But the interviews and workouts that begin Tuesday and run through Sunday in Chicago provide a chance for the Washington Huskies standout to erase doubts about his pro prospects and secure one of the 60 spots in the June 20 draft.
“With Jaylen, he’s being a little underappreciated because a lot of people feel as though the Pac-12 had a down year,” said Nowell’s agent, Ryan Davis. “So at the combine, what we’re looking to do is (address) the deficiencies that he played with this year and also just getting information out that I think is important to NBA execs as they make their decisions.
“For example, I don’t know if a lot of people are aware that Jaylen is 19 and he’s the same age as a lot of the guys who are considered one and done. But Jaylen has got two years of college basketball under his belt.”
Nowell is one of 66 players invited to the draft combine and the 6-foot-4 guard plans to participate in the measurements, athletic testing, interviews and scrimmages during the event.
Ideally, the Pac-12 player of the year will showcase the versatile skill set that allowed him to average 16.2 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 50.2 percent from the floor and 44.0 percent on three-pointers last season.
“Our approach is, we’re going to be aggressive in this pre-draft process,” Davis said. “Jaylen is going to compete in the 5-on-5 stuff as well as the basketball-related things at the combine.
“And then post-combine, we’re going to be aggressive in our workouts as well. We’re not going to run from any workouts. I think that with Jaylen, the more eyes on him the better for his draft stock because he’s consistent as a basketball player.”
And yet, Nowell’s stock in mock drafts is anything but consistent.
NBAdraft.net projects him as the 10th pick in the second round (No. 40 overall) heading to the Sacramento Kings and NBAdraftroom.com has him going to the Atlanta Hawks at No. 43 overall.
Meanwhile, ESPN tabs Nowell as the 92nd player on its top 100 prospects list.
“We’re starting to get much better feedback after the combine in terms of where his draft stock is,” Davis said. “It’s a little early because these NBA execs want to see how guys have used their time between the end of the collegiate season and the combine to see who’s made improvements and trending in the right direction.
“His stock is good enough to where he will get drafted. I think (the NBA combine) can make him though because if he does well he has an opportunity to move up the boards based on how well he does.”
A recent change in NCAA rules allows early entry draft applicants such as Nowell who compete in the NBA combine the chance to return to college after the June 20 draft.
But Nowell has spent the past several weeks training in Irvine, Calif., and said he plans to turn pro and forgo his final two seasons of eligibility.
“We feel good about what’s in front of us,” Davis said. “We feel good about the strides that he’s made in his pre-draft training and now it’s just a matter of us showing up for the combine and showing everybody where he’s at now.”
— Washington Huskies star Matisse Thybulle received an invitation to the NBA draft combine and is one of a handful of projected of first-round picks who declined to attend, including Gonzaga standout Rui Hachimura.