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Jackie Carmichael, 6-foot-8 power forward, Illinois State: A native of Manhattan, Kan., the rugged power forward was ignored by hometown school Kansas State and went to prep school in Connecticut to improve his stock before landing in the Missouri Valley Conference. As strong as an ox, Carmichael was one of the nation's top interior players, although he wasn't a household name to casual fans. Regardless of still not owning a high profile, his athleticism, rebounding ability and defensive prowess make him a top sleeper prospect in the minds of many NBA executives.
Career highlights: An impact player from the outset of his Redbirds tenure, Carmichael was named to the conference's all-freshman team, became a starter as a sophomore and developed into a nightly double-double threat as a junior, highlighted by gaudy statistical outbursts of 26 points and 16 rebounds against Missouri State, 25 points and 19 rebounds game against Drake and an 18-point, 20-rebound outburst against Oakland. At the conclusion of that season, which culminated in second-team all-league honors, back-to-back double-doubles against major-conference opponents in the postseason NIT put him on the NBA's radar, followed by solid outing in summer camps against high-level competition. Despite Illinois State's relative lack of success, Carmichael ended his college career on a high note, averaging over two blocked shots per game to make the Valley's all-defensive team for the second consecutive season and improving his offensive output to become a better and more consistent scorer, resulting in being a first-team all-conference selection.
Strengths: Carmichael's power in the paint and ability to simply muscle the opposition might not come as easily on the next level, but he'll certainly be able to more than his old his own from a physical standpoint as an NBA rookie. He combines a well-developed frame with explosiveness and agility, as well as having an excellent motor, the ability to run the floor in transition, offensive-rebounding acumen and a developing scoring game, featuring a solid touch on his mid-range jumper. Defensively, he's a shot-blocking presence and is willing to do the dirty work.
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Weaknesses: Because of his age, 23, Carmichael is viewed as having a lower ceiling than younger, less-accomplished prospects, especially when his lack of offensive polish is taken into consideration. Relying more on his strength than finesse, he doesn't have an established post move and could find it difficult to score over more talented, bigger defenders in the professional ranks, though he does have some potential as both a finisher and a pick-and-pop shooter. While his frame and athleticism make up for it to some degree, Carmichael doesn't have great size for his position.
Draft projection: A likely early-to-mid second round pick, Carmichael will have a chance to stick in the league as a solid backup big man if he works hard to find his niche offensively. With his development over the course of his time in a very competitive league and the fact that he should be capable of stepping right into a team's rotation and flourish on the defensive end, he's a safe gamble for a team looking to add a mature player who can contribute right away, if not statistically. Although the odds are against him ever becoming a primary scorer, if his rebounding numbers can translate to the NBA and he's able to accept somewhat of an enforcer role, in the right situation, he could be a very valuable long-term pro.