6 Canadians who could hear their name called in 2021 NBA Draft

Sportsnet's Donnovan Bennett takes a deeper look at 2021 NBA Draft prospect and Canadian basketball player Eugene Omoruyi.

As has become customary, Thursday’s NBA Draft will feature a number of Canadian hopefuls, eagerly anticipating getting their name called and formally beginning their journey in the world’s greatest basketball league.

Here’s a quick look at six Canucks who kept their names in the draft and, by the end of Thursday night, could very well be calling themselves NBA players.

Dalano Banton, Nebraska

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Position: Point guard
Age: 21 (redshirt sophomore)
Height: Six-foot-nine | Weight: 204 lbs
2020-21 stats: PPG: 9.6 | RPG: 5.9 | APG: 3.9 | FG%: 41.1

A six-foot-nine point guard prospect, Banton’s unique blend of size, length and skill make him a strong fit in today’s modern NBA.

There is some concern to be had with his slender frame (he weighs just 204 pounds) and his jumper is a work-in-progress, but teams can do a lot worse than take a chance on a player with Banton’s ability to see the floor and pass the ball at his height.

Jahvon Blair, Georgetown

Hometown: Brampton, Ontario
Position: Point guard/shooting guard
Age: 23 (senior)
Height: Six-foot-four | Weight: 190 lbs
2020-21 stats: PPG: 15.4 | RPG: 3.6 | APG: 3.6 | 3P%: 35.1

A senior combo guard who plays responsible defence and can get hot from beyond-the-arc, Blair elected to forgo his extra year of eligibility to keep his name in the draft, a decision that may end up with him going undrafted.

A solid player who understands how to win – he was an instrumental piece of Georgetown’s miraculous Big East championship – Blair’s name isn’t mentioned much on boards and mock drafts around spots that guys will get drafted.

Still, there are other ways to the NBA than just the draft, and so, you can’t discount the possibility that he manages to find his way to the league.

Chris Duarte, Oregon

Hometown: Montreal, Quebec
Position: Shooting guard
Age: 24 (senior)
Height: Six-foot-six | Weight: 190 lbs
2020-21 stats: PPG: 17.1 | RPG: 4.6 | APG: 2.7 | 3P%: 42.4

Montreal-born, but raised in the Dominican Republic, let’s just say Duarte is Canadian adjacent, OK?

Regardless where you want to say he’s actually from, Duarte looks to likely be a first-round pick because of his rock solid ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter and stay in front of his man on defence.

Three-and-D players are among the most valuable role players in the NBA and, if they can stick, are likely in for a long NBA career.

We can only hope the same will be said of Duarte’s career.

AJ Lawson, South Carolina

Hometown: Brampton, Ontario
Position: Shooting guard
Age: 20 (junior)
Height: Six-foot-six | Weight: 177 lbs
2020-21 stats: PPG: 16.6 | RPG: 4.1 | APG: 1.2 | 3P%: 35.1

Lawson is a jack-of-all-trades kind of guard that can do just about everything you want well, but not exceptionally so.

During his three years at South Carolina he was probably asked to do too much than what his game’s strengths play to. However, after a great G League Elite camp and combine, where he was able to demonstrate what he can do as an athletic wing who understands how to play without the ball as well as an improved shooting stroke, things are looking good for Lawson to have his name called on Thursday.

Eugene Omoruyi, Oregon

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Position: Small forward/power forward
Age: 24 (redshirt senior)
Height: Six-foot-six | Weight: 235 lbs
2020-21 stats: PPG: 17.1 | RPG: 5.4 | APG: 2.3 | FG%: 47.3 | 3P%: 37.6

A five-year collegiate player, Omoruyi began his career at Rutgers before transferring to Oregon to finish it off, and because he’s had so much college seasoning he figures to be able to step in immediately and contribute.

A bit of an undersized combo forward who plays bigger than he actually is because of his tremendous strength and relentless, infectious motor, Omoruyi also flashed some real skill, particularly as a much improved shooter from outside compared to his first three years at Rutgers.

For any team looking for a forward who can step in immediately and help them win ball games, you can do worse than Omoruyi.

Josh Primo, Alabama

Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario
Position: Shooting guard
Age: 18 (freshman)
Height: Six-foot-six | Weight: 190 lbs
2020-21 stats: PPG: 8.1 | RPG: 3.4 | FG%: 43.1 | 3P%: 38.1

Among the youngest players in this year’s draft (he’s 18 and won’t turn 19 until Christmas Eve), the surface of what Primo could be was just being scratched during his freshman year at Alabama. Nevertheless, because he already looks to have an NBA-ready jumper from all over the floor, Primo’s projecting as a late first-round talent.

He’s not the most athletic player, and doesn’t have that above-the-rim wow factor, but he illustrated a competitiveness not often seen in someone so young defensively with the Tide and, again, he can really shoot the ball – and in all kinds of situations including off screens and dribble handoffs.

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