Weekend Warrior's Wrap Up
FEATURING: The Final Installment of This Season's Weekend Warrior
Weekend Warrior Wrap Up
There’s really no easy way to start this column. This will be the last article that I post for this year’s draft cycle. Those that have known me for a while know that the nature of my “day job” requires me to take a step away from covering the draft at various moments throughout the year. Unfortunately, this time it falls almost perfectly when I stepped away from last year’s coverage. It’s crazy to think about how much things have changed between that point and now. For starters, the growth of the No Ceilings collective has been such a wave.
We’ve added the very best social media manager—as well as one of the best eyes watching draft process in the draft community—Paige Otto. The amount of growth we have sustained, in large part, is a credit to the tremendous work that she has put into what we do. We released a successful preseason Draft Guide, which served as a significant kickoff for our season. The No Ceilings NBA Podcast feed has also taken a big leap—in terms of both listenership, as well as formatting. Kicking off the week with Nathan and Maxwell has been an honor, and something I have loved doing. The “Home and Away” show on Tuesdays has been a valuable show for our team, as it has allowed us to interact with other bright minds in the scouting community, as well as players and coaches. I have been able to do more work with our editor, Nick Agar-Johnson, on the “Deep Dives” show on Wednesdays—which has been a blast! Corey and Albert have brought it all season long on the “DraftDaq” show, interviewing some prominent players within this season’s draft class and growing in their film breakdowns with them. Rucker and Metcalf have brought a unique blend of quality analysis and oodles of entertainment on Fridays.
Our consistent and comprehensive writing has been one of my favorite mediums that we have put out. The number of independent features has motivated me to bring my very best each and every week. Whether it has been Evan Wheeler, or any of the aforementioned family members, the sharpening of iron among our team is one of the biggest ingredients to our not-so-secret-sauce—not to mention the volume of great video breakdowns that have been featured on our YouTube channel, “No Ceilings TV” this season.
I’m sure you’ll hear about the success we’ve had throughout various points of the year but, since I am going to be taking a planned and coordinated leave of absence, I wanted to leave the No Ceilings Universe with some of my favorite moments from this year—and some parting words toward the end!
This might shock some of you that have been following the coming draft class. It’s not that Mallette isn’t talented, but the reason that this piece is one of the ones that I have enjoyed the most is because it signified a turn for me as a writer. Like I mentioned earlier, I really wanted to make strides as an analyst and a writer for No Ceilings this season. The prospect evaluation piece that helped me get to the point that I am now was this one on Houston. The framework from this piece from last September would serve as a guideline that I would tweak and modify as I began to break down film and analytics in a way that I never have in the past. Maxwell actually spoke about this piece on the most recent Draft Deeper episode we recorded recently, and it meant a lot to hear his kind words.
OTE Pro Day
I had the opportunity to attend games in person prior to this year for my draft evaluations. I was able to watch Jabari Smith Jr. and Walker Kessler square off against the University of South Carolina in the previous class, but I was not yet at the point where I could interact with players, coaches, etc. To kick off this season, not only was I invited to attend the Overtime Elite pro day, but, I got to meet up with our own Corey Tulaba for the first time ever! It was a fun hang!
The pro day was fantastic. Corey and I networked with some neat people that all came to see The Thompson Twins. At one point, Corey and I were shown on the airing of the scrimmages, so it is cool to now be famous. After getting to meet Ryan Gomes, Kevin Ollie, and Amen and Ausar Thompson, my fire for continuing to chase my dreams was at an all-time high…but it was just the first step of professional growth.
The Swede Freak
Bobi Klintman is a name that is finally beginning to start circulating as a player that could be the riser within this year’s draft class. The second half of his season proved to be significant enough that he has rightfully earned an opportunity to perform at the NBA Combine. But, the reason that I’m mentioning Klintman here isn’t simply because he is a versatile and intriguing prospect.
Prior to my time here at No Ceilings, I hosted a show I created when the pandemic gave birth to the greatest class of podcasters in podcast history. This show “Breaking the Game” is an accomplishment I am very proud of—I interviewed a number of prominent members of sports media and professional athletes, but never a prospect looking to enter the NBA draft.
Bobi Klintman was the first athlete looking to make the NBA I had ever interviewed, and, to be transparent, I was super nervous. Bobi was such a joy to speak to back in early December, and I have rooted for him ever since. The amount of comfort he provided me in a state of professional vulnerability gave me confidence in my interviewing and analysis of players beyond what they do on the basketball court.
This piece is a personal favorite of mine. For one, I loved the game of Hendricks—dating back several months ago when the idea of him wasn’t yet to the point of a consensus Top 10 player. In early January, Corey Tulaba pulled the rankings of reputable draft outlets. His aggregation of boards revealed that Hendricks was the consensus 32nd prospect, with his range varying from 21 to not listed.
In my featured piece on him, I dove into what NBA teams are doing with their roster and lineup construction. What I found was that size is very much “in” for NBA teams. A number of teams employed what I refer to as “Modernized Twin Tower Lineups” meaning that teams can play multiple, larger players, so long as they have facets of their game that are conducive to floor spacing and rim protection. Using that aspect of what NBA teams are using and, thus, are now searching for even more, I wanted to emphasize how much Taylor Hendricks is “Taylor made” for the NBA.
Later in the season, I actually got to watch Taylor Hendricks live when UCF faced off against East Carolina University. On March 5th, I was able to scout him while breaking away from a family vacation (I got permission, so it’s okay). After the game, I was given the chance to ask him some questions in regards to his development. The amount of maturity and honesty made me an even bigger fan of him and his game…something I didn’t think was possible.
In the month of January, Brandin Podziemski had been a name that scouts were starting to discuss more often. With the success of former Santa Clara prospect and friend of No Ceilings, Jalen Williams, Podziemski strangely benefitted from Jalen’s rise to national recognition, while also proving to be a lethal offensive weapon. The production remained consistent for a few months, which led me to seeking an interview with the Santa Clara Bronco.
The interview with “Air Podz” (shoutout to Corey) was brief, but full of gems that speak to the competitive nature of Brandin. The research I had undergone prior to speaking with the young man was all validated in our conversation. His desire for greatness has never been in question, which serves him well as a player that NBA teams should be more than comfortable investing in. The support from his family and his hard work led him to success in high school, in AAU with prominent names, and in college. Brandin continued his high level of production after our time together, which is no surprise. He now has a real shot at being taken at a respectable range. Talk about a path to greatness.
It’s crazy that this piece was written “only” two months ago—the amount of work that has been done since then is a real whirlwind. Be that as it may, this piece was based on another game I was able to attend live. I made the drive to Athens, Georgia to see the Bulldogs against the Missouri Tigers to see Kobe Brown and, of course, D’Moi Hodge. While Kobe was known as the motor behind the team, I was very interested to see the impact of Hodge. He did not disappoint.
Hodge did what he had been doing up until this point, which is shooting the ever-loving-heck out of the ball, and being an absolute menace on defense. Being able to watch the way Missouri would employ a bevvy of defensive coverage in person gave me a greater appreciation for the subtleties that D’Moi possesses. The ball-hawking and efficiency he plays with gave me some reminders of players that have—not only similar skill sets, but also paths that will likely bare semblances to how Hodge gets minutes in the NBA.
This series that I started very close to the end of the college basketball season was so much fun. I was able to reach out to different members of the scouting community and get their own takes on how they viewed a number of different prospects. I started with a player that I am very high on: Jalen-Hood Schifino. Of course, I endured several cautionary takes that made me question my sanity on why I feel the way I do about JHS. However, I was also vindicated on some of the reasons why I am so high on him.
The second (and last) “Scout-Take” segment I was able to publish on the No Ceilings website was on Jordan Walsh. This was on the heels of the Arkansas Razorback tourney run, in which several scouts were wondering aloud as to how close to being a draftable prospect Walsh was. As one could imagine, the results were vast. Although short-lived, this project was so much fun and is something I very much intend on using for the next cycle.
I loved getting to dive into this piece! The conundrum of drafting Emoni Bates has been a very volatile and unpredictable undertaking, but the intrigue that surrounds him has been fairly consistent. With the strange Memphis season, along with the decision to go Eastern Michigan, Emoni’s journey is something that is pretty unprecedented.
With that being the case, I had to reach out to gain some understanding and insight in regards to making sense of Emoni’s journey. Friend of mine Rashad Phillips, was able to give me some of his time and allowed me to present some context and perspective as to why we shouldn’t be so quick to write off the young basketball prodigy.
It’s been an incredible year for me. I never lose sight of the fact that I am in the position that I am in and that I am surrounded by such wonderful people. It’s been a blessing to make the connections that I have this season, as well as being able to make the strides that I have made. And it is all made possible because of the support that the No Ceilings Universe has given our team and me.
I want to give a special “thank you” to all of my colleagues here at No Ceilings. I also want to thank all of the tremendous guests that I have had the pleasure to host, as well as those that have invited me to be on their shows. The public support given to the No Ceilings collective, which are growing in both frequency and prominence, is something that blows me away each and every time I see it.
While I am stepping away, I am very excited for all of you reading this! There are a number of amazing things coming from the team here, and I cannot wait for you all to experience them. I cannot wait to see what I come back to when I do. Until that day, much love to you all!