In this brief segment, I outline the emerging prospects for the 2011-2012 WAC season.
Wendell McKines, New Mexico St.- McKines is a 6'6 forward that is poised for a breakout season. While he may be a bit limited as an NBA prospect because his game is not as perimeter oriented as it needs to be, McKines is a physical force inside. He is extremely strong and tries to dunk the ball every time he touches it. Not only is he aggressive scoring the ball, but he is also a prolific rebounder for his size. While he was listed as a preseason first-team all WAC selection a season ago, a broken foot forced him to redshirt. Now, it appears that McKines is in even better shape and probably is the odds-on favorite to win WAC player of the year entering the season. In San Francisco Pro Am action, McKines took home the MVP, averaging 34.4 points and 15.1 rebounds per game. Still, this is only a summer performance and he has been facing less rigorous defenses. With that said, such numbers are eye-raising at any level of basketball. Look for him to emerge as a second round pick next year, and, if he can hone his perimeter shooting, McKines has a shot to go even higher. Obviously, it is very early to make such a prediction. But, considering the fact that Landry Fields was once a former MVP of the San Francisco Pro Am, it seems as though he is in good company for the time being.
Brockeith Pane, Utah St.- While he may not get that much attention from the NBA due to his age, Pane will probably be the best guard in the WAC next season. Pane is a slashing lead guard with the ability to run a team. He was a major catalyst behind Utah St.'s emergence a year ago. With a full season under his belt already after transferring from Midland JC, I expect Pane to really develop into a borderline NBA prospect. In order to do this, however, he must display a notable difference in his three point shooting touch. (21.1% is not going to cut it)Further, he must demonstrate that he can distribute the ball and lead his team to another tournament run. He will have plenty of chances, as I expect him to have the ball in his hands more often with the loss of Tai Wesley.
Will Carter, San Jose St.- While McKines is receiving most of the hype coming out of the San Francisco Pro Am League, Carter also evinced considerable improvement. He was the 7th leading scorer in this league and also managed to shoot 50% from the floor. After transferring from Salt Lake Community College a season ago, Carter had a solid Junior campaign at San Jose St. He nearly averaged a double-double in his first season and was the fifth leading rebounder in the WAC, averaging 11.4 ppg and 9.5 rpg in his final 14 contests. While he put up impressive statistical averages, he did not have a very high usage rating, ranking 44th in the WAC in kenpom.com's % of team shots statistics. With high usage players Adrian Oliver and Justin Graham gone from a year ago, look for his statistical output to increase significantly. He should be an All-WAC performer and may get some workout looks and an invite to Portsmouth Camp next season.
Devonte Elliott, Nevada- After being selected to play in the Reach USA games, Elliott picked up some valuable experiences abroad. While he is still very raw and tends to float on the perimeter causing some to compare him to a poor man's Robert Horry, Elliott is beginning to add weight and should be much stronger than his former 6'10 210 lb frame from a season ago. While he received very limited playing time last year, expect him to emerge as one of the bright spots on his Nevada Wolfpack squad. It is unfair for one to expect such a momentous improvement on his 1.8ppg 2.8 rpg statistics a season ago, but it is clear that he will receive more playing time and that his production should likewise increase. Look for him to emerge as a long term prospect if he can add enough girth and hone his inside game.