The NBA Draft is over and while the Mavericks did not have a pick in the 2021 draft, they were fairly busy afterward in the undrafted free agent market.
With all of Dallas’ rookies coming back next season and expected to get some more time to see what they can do, it’s unlikely any of the four undrafted free agents the Mavericks signed late Thursday night will make an impact this season, let alone stick around on the roster. Still, there are some intriguing names and here’s the rundown on each of them.
E.J. Onu, 6’11 F/C, Shawnee State
It surfaced some time ago that E.J. Onu worked out for Dallas, so it made sense that when the 6’11 big man from Shawnee State didn’t hear his named called on Thursday he was plucked up by the Mavericks. ESPN ranked him among their top 25 UDFA candidates, and he showed up on a few mocks in the second round in the months leading up to the draft, so Onu was very much on the scouting radar. Onu’s calling card is obvious: he’s one of the most prolific shotblockers in college history. Over four years at Shawnee State, Onu averaged 4.23 blocks per game, reaching as high as 5.69 (!!) per as a Junior.
I’m not entirely sure how reliable these measurements are, but according to the data collected at the G-League Elite Camp, Onu is 6’10.75 with shoes, a little over 231 pounds, and possesses an absurd 7’8.5 wingspan, making it fairly obvious how he was able to rack up the rejections like he did. You can see from this video, however, that Onu is not just a stationary giant, altering attempts with sheer length. He moves pretty well for someone that size, and has clearly worked on his timing and anticipation.
What is perhaps equally promising, when looking at Onu as a prospect, is his development as a shooter over his four years in college. Onu did not reliably knock down the three-ball as an underclassman, but managed to hit 40 percent as a senior — with decent volume — and he made 72 percent of his free throws throughout his collegiate career. Why, with those numbers you might call him a Unic-no…no, actually, let’s not call him that.
Onu joined a program that won nine games the year before and left them as Intercollegiate champions. The challenge now for Onu will be adjusting to the massive leap in competition level from the NAIA to the NBA. I see plenty of reason to think the rim protection will translate. If his newfound perimeter skills are for real, Dallas might have a real developmental piece here.
Eugene Omoruyi, 6’6 G/F, Oregon
Oregon’s Eugene Omoruyi will sign a deal with the Mavericks, source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 30, 2021
Eugene Omoruyi also appeared on ESPN’s list of top UDFA candidates. Omoruyi spent three years at Rutgers before transferring to Oregon for his senior season. If you watched the NCAA tournament, you might have seen Omoruyi and the Ducks upset Iowa in the second round, before losing to USC and the Mobley brothers in the Sweet 16. Along with Chris Duarte (a lottery pick by Indiana who one assumes will get the pleasure of watching from the bench as Rick Carlisle coaches the Pacers next season), Omoruyi played well in defeat, putting up 28 points and 10 rebounds in a losing effort. It was the first time in school history a player had put up 25 points or more and 10 rebounds in a tournament game.
Omoruyi was measured at 6’6.75 in shoes with a 7’1.25 wingspan. With a sturdy 237 pound frame, Omoruyi has an NBA-ready body and has shown flashes of being a switchable defender with the strength and athleticism to handle different assignments. Omoruyi was Oregon’s leading scorer, and was a productive across-the-board player in the Pac-12, earning first team All-Conference honors. His outside shooting was almost nonexistent at Rutgers, but Omoruyi made 37.6 percent of his threes as a senior and 76.5 percent of his free throws, so it isn’t too difficult to imagine Omoruyi offering a 3&D type role at the next level. Eugene didn’t start playing basketball until his sophomore year in high school, making him a relative newcomer to the sport, but he’s also already 24, so the Nigerian-born, Canadian-raised wing is likely close to a finished package (at least physically).
Carlik Jones, 6’1 G, Louisville
Louisville’s G Carlik Jones has agreed to a deal with the Mavericks, source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 30, 2021
Another senior transfer, point guard Carlik Jones went from Radford in the Big South to Louisville and hardly missed a beat. After getting rave reviews for his play in the G League Elite Camp, Jones earned an invite to the NBA combine. Though he’s not very big or an especially explosive athlete, Jones is often noted for his ability to play at his own pace, get to his spots without being hurried, and to make intelligent reads out of ball screens. That would certainly seem like a translatable NBA skill. Jones is more crafty than skilled as a scorer, but his track record of production speaks for itself. Jones was Big South Player of the Year as a junior and All-ACC first team as a senior.
Defensively, Jones compensates for his pedestrian size with effort and length (6’5+ reported wingspan). He crashes the defensive boards well for a small guard, and will get his share of steals on ball. He can be overwhelmed physically in strength/explosion matchups, but he’s experienced, and competes well. Another older prospect at 23, Jones may not have a lot of room to grow, but offers an intriguing skillset to a franchise that has had success developing small guards who thrive working out of the pick and roll.
Feron Hunt, 6’8 F, SMU
Feron Hunt, a local product from DeSoto High School and SMU, appears to have also signed with Dallas. I had trouble locating official measurements for Hunt, but most sites have him listed at 6’8 or 6’9, and between 195 and 200 pounds. As a junior, Hunt led the Mustangs in rebounding and in highlight dunks, as he’s a clear athletic specimen who can really get off the floor. Hunt’s game is still developing, as he’s not much of an outside shooter yet, and is still working to get his dribble tight enough so he can leverage his quickness and first step. A lot of Hunt’s points came either in transition, or as a cutter/offensive rebounder. You can see he’s put in work as a driver, however, showing off some spin moves to counter teams trying to take away the straight line attack. Give Hunt credit: though he didn’t stretch opposing defenses much, he managed to be extremely efficient, and didn’t force bad a lot of bad shots he couldn’t make.
Defensively, though Hunt badly needs to put on weight, that athleticism helps him stay in front of smaller players, and he’s long/bouncy enough to offer some weakside rim protection as well. Though his production and developing skillset suggest more of an energy guy than a real rotation player at this point, he has the physical traits to be a versatile defender and should the perimeter skills emerge, perhaps much more. Maybe we can at least see some preseason lobs from Luka Doncic?