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Sources: Ochefu may have Villanova's highest NBA Upside


Although he scores the least of any starter on the Villanova roster, Daniel Ochefu might have the most NBA upside of any player for the Wildcats.

According to a source close to the men's basketball team and connected to the NBA, there are multiple players who have the upside to play in the league, but Ochefu is closer to what NBA scouts prefer at the next level.

"With the NBA being how it is now, Daniel is a true center right now," the source said. "He needs some improvements but he can play."

"There's certainly a place for him if he keeps developing and works to get stronger. With his abilities, he can switch and play the perimeter if he has to with his length. Within Villanova's system, he plays hard and well."

The sophomore center averages of 4.1 points and is second on the team in rebounding with 5.8 boards in 14 games played in 18.9 minutes per contest. Ochefu leads the team in blocked shots per game, racking up 25 total stuffs this season.

Despite Ochefu playing the least of any starter on the roster, NBA franchises covet near-seven footers who can protect the rim and play staunch defense. Different cases of these players in recent memory are Louisville's Gorgui Dieng, a 2013 first round selection and Kansas' Jeff Withey, a second round choice last season.

Players similar to Ochefu's size and defensive skill set usually have a raw offensive package and could be bound for immediate action in the NBA D-Leaugue. Franchises take players like these late in the first round or in the second round of a draft and keep them as "project players." An example of that would be France's Rudy Gobert, another 2013 first round selection.

Outside of Ochefu's NBA upside, the source said that it was doubtful if James Bell could make it at the next level. The source said that his upside depends on being in the "right situation and being in the right place at the right time."

"Bell is playing really well, but you never know" the source said. "I have respect for him because he's made himself into a fearless shooter. He's attacking the basket more off the dribble and taking advantage of what the defense gives him. He reminds me of Tony Allen, but it's going to be hard for him. There's probably not a whole lot of teams out there with the patience to work with him."

If there is any hope for any of Villanova's leading scorers, it remains in JayVaughn Pinkston due to his breakout season, recently just capping the 1,000 point mark against Seton Hall on Wednesday night. The junior forward averages a team-high 16.1 points and is third on the team in rebounding with 5.1 boards per game. The 6-foot-7, 240-pounder is also shooting 52.1 percent from the field.

Pinkston has been drawing comparisons to the Philadelphia 76ers' Thaddeus Young from some scouts, and according to the source, his NBA upside depends on how hard he works during his next two seasons with the Wildcats.

"With Pinkston, he has to work on his shooting, but he has become so much more polished by shedding some weight," the source said. "He looks much faster. He's always had really good footwork, but [early in his career] he was still carrying some baby fat, but he has been put in a position where people are looking at him.

"At his size, you have to be able to shoot it in the league. You have to be able to space the floor."