Starting with the 2020 WSBA season, the league has introduced a G-League Select program for elite high school prospects that are looking for a different avenue towards reaching the pros rather than going the college route. This year, only four prep stars took the plunge and joined the G-League and have started their career this past week. We are going to take a quick look at their debuts now.
PG Chris Jones – Springfield Bison
Tasked with leading the team as the starting point guard, Jones didn’t do much in terms of getting others involved. He finished the night with one assist compared to four turnovers and added in five fouls. He was able to score 10 points (3-9 FG, 2-7 3PT) while also grabbing six boards. Although it was a winning effort, Jones can’t take a ton of credit for the W.
At 6’1″ and 191 pounds, Jones has ideal size for the position though could stand to lose some weight to be a more effective defender on the outside. While his passing and vision stand to improve dramatically, his ball handling is already pretty tight. That will be essential considering he doesn’t have the prettiest jumper and most likely will need to do most of his damage from inside the arc. Jones needs to improve his lateral quickness to be a better defender while also learning to not give too much ground while helping for more effective close outs and contests.
PF Kelly Mason – Springfield Bison
In his debut for the Bison, Mason exploded for 18 points on 8-9 shooting including hitting one of his two triples. Not only was he nearly perfect from the field, he ripped down 15 boards (5 offensive), dished out four assists and added a steal as well. What’s not to love about a big double-double to start his career?
At 6’11” and 242 pounds, Mason could be best slated to play center in the WSBA with great size. If that three-point touched he showcased in the first game is legit, his ability to space the floor while also scoring efficiently inside will be supremely valuable. He needs to work on his defensive ability but as an offensive force and a rebounder, he’s already showing promise.
SF Jaraan Lake – Westchester Metros
Just one game under his belt, Lake opened his career with 37 minutes in a start. He logged 10 wildly unimpressive points on 3-9 shooting including 0-4 from deep. Not mush else from Lake outside of those points as the rest of his state line “featured” two boards and an assist to go with two turnovers.
The 6’7″, 219-pound wing seems to lack the polish you would expect to see from an elite high school prospect playing in the G-League. If Lake cannot prove to be more efficient as a scorer or bring another skill to the table, it may be tough to envision his name getting called in the first round.
PG Robert Richard – Los Angeles Sea Dogs
Richard’s career started by being handed 40 minutes in his first professional experience. While the Sea Dogs fell to the Salt Lake City Hits 97-89, Richard did his best as he led the team in scoring (18 points) and assists (5) while adding in five boards and two steals. The shooting was spotty at best (7-20 FG, 4-12 3PT) and seemed a bit foul prone, but still a formidable first game.
In his 2nd game, another in front of the home crowd, Richard earned another 36 minutes in another start. He scored the same 18 points but on much better efficiency (6-11 FG, 4-8 3PT) while also ripping down six boards, dishing seven assists with a steal and a block. He had just one foul but the six turnovers put a damper on this one.
He shows some promise as a floor general and he should have a WSBA ready jumper when he comes in to the league. He’s also an adept drive stopper so he shouldn’t get abused on blow-by drives on the perimeter.
While still [very] early in their G-League seasons, it’s clear all four of these guys have a long way to go before they will be effective, rotational players in the WSBA. If we had to rank the prospects in order of who will be drafted first, we see it like this:
1) PF Kelly Mason
2) PG Robert Richard
3) PG Chris Jones
4) SF Jaraan Lake
These rankings are very much fluid and could change as soon as we see them play one more game. With so few opportunities to impress the WSBA scouts, every game is going to matter for these four when it comes to increasing their draft stock.