Undrafted Summer League Standouts
Updated: Jul 14
7-footer with skill– 5th Year Florida – Two-Way
Castleton finds himself in the summer league following a 5-year collegiate career. The 7-footer originally began with two disenchanted seasons for Michigan, before transfer to Florida where his production steadily grew.
Now with the Lakers, Castleton has been one of the premiere undrafted summer league standouts in Vegas. Averaging a double-double with 14 ppg and 10 rebounds, Castleton has been a very consistent anchor for a team primarily focused with the play of guards Jalen Hood-Schifino—their 1st round pick—and second year draft pick Max Christie.
Castleton has strength in rebounding and is sturdy defender inside, but his offensive game is more limited. While he has scored on putbacks and pick-and-roll feeds, his outside shooting touch is relatively non-existent. In college, the Floridian big went 2-32 on career threes, and has yet to drain one in summer league. Clearly, his arsenal is paint-bound, but that hasn’t stopped many players with similar games from succeeding. Starved for consistent play behind an injury-prone star in Anthony Davis, L.A. may want to keep Colin Castleton around for now.
6’10, power forward with touch – 5th year LSU - Exhibit 10
We haven’t seen a lot from KJ Williams yet, but the 5th year senior from LSU flashed a lot to like in his first summer League game. In his 19-point and 13-rebound outing, Williams showcased a variety of skills that are reason for intrigue. For one, there is a reason Williams ended up with 13 boards. The 6-10 forward was in the right spot an uncanny number of times; it is clear from the tape that Williams has the anticipation skills of a high motor small forward, combined with the physicals of a true power forward.
Lots of teams in the NBA would consider employing a player with Williams's skill and intangibles as a semi small-ball five, though Williams hardly looks “small” on the court. Williams in this role could also potentially find great success as a pick and popper. In college, Williams played four seasons with the Murray State Racers, before ultimately ending his career with LSU, where his stats stayed impressive against the SEC. In his lone season with the Tigers, the forward shot 49% from the field and 41% from three.
While his touch wasn’t on full display, going 1-4 in his first action, KJ Williams demonstrated his ability to drain the college three. If he can improve his mobility and shot blocking, while honing his shot from the NBA three-point line, KJ Williams might be the kind of rare prospect with size and touch around the basket that deserves a two-way spot.
Slim 6’4 combo guard – So. NC State –Two Way Deal
Fans of March Madness, or the Wolfpack in general, may recall Smith torching Creighton in the first round of the tournament. His 32 points in that game was good for his 11th 20+ game of the year. So far in Summer League, Smith has shown that his bag translates in Vegas. Through a few games with the Sixers, the NC State product is averaging almost 16 ppg on 39% FG shooting and 38% from three, while pulling down 4.5 boards and dishing 5.5 assists. In his last game against the Hawks, Smith went 7-10 from the floor, including 3-5 from distance, on the way to a 20/3/3 outing. The guard is a real threat and could easily average 10 or more PPG in the NBA, but the questions is this: does his scoring outweigh areas of concern?
At 6’4, Smith has good length to run the point or slide over to be a catch and shoot off-guard; however, the concern for the wing is his frame. Smith is a thin 165 and could easily get moved around by big or bulky wings. Even someone like fellow undrafted guard Mike Miles Jr. has 40 pounds on the NC State product. For Smith to be successful, Philadelphia will want him to bulk up and become sturdier defensively. The lack of perimeter and inside D was painfully apparent recently, as the Sixer’s summer leaguers blew a 15 point 4th Quarter lead and allowed the Mavs to go on a 30-9 run.
Smith’s success is crucial for a Sixers team lacking depth of young talent, especially given they didn’t have a single pick in this year’s draft. If Smith continues to produce, he might find his way into Nick Nurse's rotation at some point, or perhaps as a potential sweetener in a James Harden deal. Either way, Smith is still young and has plenty of time, and talent, to utilize.
6’4 Nimble Wing – Jr. Missouri –Two-Way Deal
Hodge began his college career at Cleveland State, before transferring to Missouri, where he nailed 100 triples in one season while shooting 40% from beyond the college hoops arc. Couple this with his athletic, and at times explosive, finishing ability, and it isn’t hard to see why Hodge earned a two-way spot with the Lakers.
In Las Vegas, the young wing has essentially replicated his collegiate numbers, hitting FG attempts at 50% and threes at 40%. . One of his best performances came against the Celtics summer league squad, where he put up 22 points without a single free throw. Hodge’s 6 made threes led both teams in that game, cementing a performance that shadowed even coveted young guns Max Christie and Jalen Hood-Schifino.
If Lakers fans have any concern with Hood-Schifino and fellow draft pick Maxwell Lewis, they may find comfort in their undrafted summer league standouts: Castleton and Hodge. If Hodge can add more to his game in terms of defense and ball movement, he could be something special at the two, or even three in smaller lineups.
6’8 versatile forward - 5th year USC – Exhibit 10
Peterson is an intriguing prospect who has a blend of length and touch that might just help him crack the NBA. A 5th year senior from USC, Peterson was dynamic for the Trojans, averaging 14/6/4 in his last year of eligibility. His scoring seems to have translated in Summer League, as Peterson is averaging 13 PPG with an electric 60% from the NBA three.
Miami has been known in recent years to build around their core of Bam and Jimmy with undrafted guys, including former Miami players Gabe Vincent and Max Strus. Peterson could potentially be in a good spot to get a two-way contract, given both Miami’s departing backcourt depth and a loaming, rumored Dame trade. If Miami has to give up some extra pieces to make a 3+ team deal work, Peterson might get a look to help rebuild the back end of Maimi’s rotation or G-League squad.
Regardless of how Miami’s roster shapes up, one has to expect the undrafted Peterson’s standout success has raised some eyebrows. There aren’t many guys of his height who can play like guards on the perimeter and distribute the ball at a high level. Peterson can, at the most fundamental level, be a tall catch-and-shoot player who is unaffected by closeouts. This alone is worth a G-League look to some teams.
Criag Porter Jr.
6’2 Dynamic Guard – Jr. Wichita St– Two-Way
Porter Jr. was by no means an eye-popping prospect coming into the draft. In his third season with Wichita St, the guard posted season averages of 13/6/5. While not dynamite as a scorer, he was able to post high marks on the glass and dishing assists while still averaging above 10 PPG. But this is usually appealing to NBA teams when there is size involved; take for example the 6'5 Brandin Podziemsk who heard his name called at pick #19. However, Porter Jr. has so far proved the length and physicality of the NBA is not an impediment to his all-around game.
Over three games, the undrafted Porter Jr. has posted a 10/7/4 stat line, including his standout 22/8/6 explosion. While not as tall as many teams look for these days, Porter Jr. has great cutting ability and can elevate for dunks and boards with ease. Additionally, he has been able to find guys in the right places and make passes to set up his Summer League teammates.
There are shades of young Terry Rozier in Porter Jr.'s game, and if the Cav's two-way guard can master his shot from distance, he could be a real problem. Cleveland fans have to love what they have seen from some of their young wings in Summer League, as draft pick Emoni Bates has teamed up with 2nd-year PG Sharife Cooper, but at times Porter Jr. has showcased the most dynamic skillset.
Mike Miles Jr.
6’2 Dynamic Guard – Jr. TCU – Two-Way
Mike Miles Jr. was electric for the Horned Frogs last season, especially in March. Now, he is replicating that success in Las Vegas and showing fans why the Mavs gave him a look. Against the Warriors, Miles connected on three 3’s and finished with 19 points and 4 assists, including a number of dimes to rookie teammate Lively II.
While not as tall as many PGs teams are giving looks to now, Miles looks comfortable with the rock and has shown the ability to lead the offensive attack. Driving, shooting, and dishing are all a part of the guard’s game. He also looks sturdy on defense, and he is quick enough to keep up with slashers.
While he may not find himself in the rotation for the Mavs immediately, keep an eye out for Mike Miles Jr. to pop in year two, like Lester Quinones has for the Warriors, or even like teammate Jaden Hardy.
Ricky Council IV
6’6 Slashing Wing – Jr. Arkansas – Two-Way
In addition to Smith, the Sixers also picked up undrafted FA Ricky Council IV in hopes of bolstering a somewhat barren pipeline of young plays. While not putting up the numbers his two-way counterpart has so far, Council looks like he should have been a 2nd round pick at least.
After playing two seasons with Wichita State, Council transferred to a loaded Arkansas team. Playing alongside 1st round picks in Anthony Black and Jordan Walsh, Council still managed to put up 16 PPG. The athletic wing has proven he can score at higher levels this summer, generating 12 PPG for a Sixers squad loaded with offensive firepower while pulling down around 6 rebounds per game.
While Council is an imposing wing at 6’6 and 205 pounds, his attitude heightens his effect on the court. The Arkansas product plays with a noticeable chip on his shoulder, a sort of aggression the Sixers only saw from PJ Tucker last season. However, Council is not without his flaws. He has yet to hit a three-ball this Summer League and has little track record of hitting from the outside, even in college where he drained just 34-126 of college threes for the Razorbacks last year.
6’9 Interior forward - Jr. Connecticut - Two Way
Sanogo is coming off Uconn’s national title run, opting to try his luck in the NBA draft instead of running it back with the Huskies. Draft night was unsuccessful for the big man, but did get a call from the Bulls afterwards, recently signing a two-way contract. Sanogo is a kind of player that is nearly non-existent in the NBA these days: a powerful, undersized big. But Sanogo is so good at what he does, he may just have a place on the active roster at some point.
After struggling in his first action, Sanogo has picked up the pace in a big way. Against Sacramento, the former Huskie put up 15 and 9 on 70% shooting, notching 2 steals and 2 blocks along the way. Following this outing, Sanogo put up another near-double-double against the Cavs. While his stat lines shows improvement, a lot of what Sanogo does doesn’t show up in the boxscore. From deterring layups to altering close shots, Sanogo has proven that he can command the paint on D.
Offensively, Sanogo has found ways to score, but they are limited to paint touches and putbacks. In an effort to perhaps boost his draft stock, Sanogo took 52 college threes his Junior year, a sharp hike from his 1 three attempted in his first two years. During that final season, he managed to hit just 19 of those 52 shots and has yet to make a Summer League three. While very much a traditional center in this way, he may just be good enough to be old school.
6’11 Interior Center – 5th Year UAB – Exhibit 10
Playing alongside fellow Summer Leaguer Jelly Walker, Jemison was somewhat overshadowed by a touted Blazers backcourt. But fans of UAB know that the big man has some game to go along with his size.
At nearly 7-foot and 260 pounds, Jemison is an absolute force on the inside, yet can move and jump with a surprising level of athleticism. In Summer League, Jemison averages 10 PPG and has finished alley oop dunks and putbacks with ferocity, making him a sneaky threat in the dunker’s spot. On defense, Jemison commands the paint, averaging a block a game and 7 boards.
Looking at the NBA, there seems to be a resurgence of 5s in Jemison’s style. Zubic and Plumlee held down the paint for the Clippers last season—neither being a credible threat from three. The Hornets and Pistons also deployed more tradition or rim-running centers in last season with Mark Williams, Nick Richards, Jalen Duren, and James Wiseman all seeing minutes. The Suns, Jemison’s Summer League team, were just as involved in this trend, giving minutes to Bismack Biyombo and Jock Landale. But now, both players may be gone for PHX. Perhaps Jemison could get a two-way spot and find himself behind Ayton at some point down the line?
College stats and player bio info via ESPN.com
Summer League stats Via NBA.com
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