CHICAGO — Jalen Duren did what’s becoming the norm for top prospects at the NBA draft combine: He backed out of his media availability.
The former Roman Catholic and Memphis standout also declined to work out and have his measurables taken while here in the Windy City.
Still, league scouts shared their evaluations of the projected lottery pick in the June 23 draft.
“His athleticism is elite, I mean elite,” said one scout, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “He also has elite NBA verticality. He has a great frame and is a good passer for a big man and he’s an area rebounder.”
Duren averaged 12 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks during his lone season at Memphis. The 6-foot-11, 250-pound center recorded nine double-doubles in 29 games. And the 18-year-old was the American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year and a member of the first-team All-AAC and AAC All-Freshman teams.
“He needs to work on facing the basket and shooting,” another scout said. “He hasn’t shown that he can consistently do that right now. So you are getting basically a traditional rim runner. But he can pass out of the elbows and pocket-pass. He sees the double teams and [passes] to whoever’s open.”
ESPN’s mock draft projects him seventh overall to the Portland Trail Blazers. Meanwhile, cbssports.com’s mock draft has him going ninth to the Charlotte Hornets. And Yahoo! Sports has the New Castle, Del., native going 16th to the Atlanta Hawks.
But NBA teams have concerns.
“The main concern is, does he love the game?” a scout said. “His rep is that he doesn’t work out hard. He doesn’t practice hard. You can’t save it for the game. He disappears throughout the game too much for someone with his athleticism, size, and skill.”
Duren averaged 12.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks as a freshman at Roman Catholic. As a sophomore, he averaged 18.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks.
Duren transferred to national powerhouse Montverde Academy in Florida after that season. At the time, he was regarded as the nation’s No. 1 player in the Class of 2022. Following one year at Montverde, Duren opted to reclassify to the Class of 2021 and enroll at Memphis.