By Russell Vannozzi
Vanderbilt senior Luke Kornet has a rare combination of height, athleticism and shooting ability that should have NBA scouts intrigued. The seven-foot-one power forward has blossomed into a stellar college player and is in the midst of his best statistical season, averaging 13.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
Yet, despite his measurables, Kornet is receiving very little in the way of NBA draft attention. As of March 1, here is where Kornet stands in several NBA mock drafts:
CBS Sports: Undrafted, not listed among the top 75 NBA prospects
Draft Express: Second round, pick No. 59 to the San Antonio Spurs
The Sports Bank: Second round, pick No. 53 to the Denver Nuggets
Kornet’s name could be found only in two mock drafts, and both picks were right at the bitter end of the draft’s 60 overall picks.
The simple truth is that there are very few spots to be had in the NBA. Each team rosters only 15 players at any given time. Former Vanderbilt stars Wade Baldwin and Damian Jones were drafted in the first round last year, but have both struggled to find playing time at the professional level.
There are some obvious question marks about Kornet’s game. He grew nearly a foot during high school and had to completely change positions (from a guard to a forward) due to the grow spurt. His post game has developed well over his career, but he does not often post up against similarly-sized opponents, usually opting for a jump shot instead.
Although Kornet has put on nearly 40 pounds since arriving at Vanderbilt in 2013, he still has the tendency to get pushed around by elite post players due to his lack of lower-body strength.
However, Kornet has an uncanny ability to knock down three-point shots. The Lantana, Texas, native is currently shooting 36 percent from beyond the arc.He has even nailed several game-winners from long range and also holds the NCAA record for three-pointers made by a seven-foot player.
Kornet is also not afraid to play above the rim. His length allows him to dunk with ease and it also give opposing players big problems in the paint. Defensively, Kornet has blocked over 200 shots over the course of his college career, while his rebounding ability has improved by leaps and bounds as he has put on weight.
Due to his unique combination of length and shooting ability, Kornet deserves a chance to show the NBA what he can do. Several college basketball analysts, and his head coach, seem to believe he has a chance.
Count The Tennessean sports columnist Joe Rexrode among Kornet’s believers:
You watch Luke Kornet put the ball on the floor going left and dunk on someone like that and can easily imagine him on an NBA roster.
— Joe Rexrode (@joerexrode) February 4, 2017
ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla echoed Rexrode and Drew’s sentiments and noted that Drew certainly has an understanding of what it takes to be drafted.
In talking with @BUDREW, told me brother Bryce high on 7-1 Luke Kornet as NBA prospect. Nothing new there but former No. 1 pick would know.
— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) October 5, 2016
Thanks to a solid senior season, it seems that Kornet will, at the very least, get an invite to the NBA Summer League in a few months. But if the dominoes fall in his favor, do not be surprised to hear Kornet’s name called on June 22.