Melvin Ejim, 6-foot-6 small forward, Iowa State
2013-14 stats: 17.8 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.7 BPG, 1.2 SPG, .505 FG%, .346 3P%
Based on his production as a senior, Ejim’s draft stock should be much higher, but in addition to his four-year college career being held against him, the native of Canada is something of a tweener, having played power forward for the Cyclones. However, Ejim’s versatile game, which features high-level rebounding and solid perimeter shooting, gives him a chance to create a defined role for himself at the next level. If his perceived limitations can be minimized and attributes such as high character and on-court intangibles are valued, Ejim could develop into a NBA role player.
[NBA Draft Profile: UCLA's Zach LaVine]
Career highlights: A starter his freshman year, Ejim made an impact, averaging 10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, with four double-doubles on the season, then followed it up with a similar campaign as a sophomore, posting averages of 9.3 points and 6.6 rebounds, notching three double-doubles. Ejim became more of a rebounding specialist as a junior, leading the Big 12 with 9.3 rebounds per game, while also scoring 11.3 points a contest, logging 15 double-doubles, improving his three-point shooting to 34.8 percent, winning the first of two consecutive Big-12’s scholar-athlete of the year awards and earning third team all-conference honors. His senior year saw Ejim become a star, averaging 17.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, highlighted by a league-record 48 points and career-high 18 rebounds against TCU, being named conference player of the year and winning second team All-American honors.
Strengths: Despite being undersized, Ejim is a tremendous rebounder on both ends of the floor, using his quickness, strength, leaping ability and motor to pursue boards in the paint and out of his area. He also has the ability to face up and score as a slasher from both the wing and baseline, knock down mid-range jumpers and long-range shots, operate in the high post, score on the low block and finish plays in transition. Defensively, Ejim is capable of guarding bigger players on the interior and has decent lateral quickness, enabling him to stay in front of wing players.
Weaknesses: Because Ejim played mostly on the interior in college, there are questions about his ability to make the transition into a full-time wing player on the next level. While he showed the ability to make outside jumpers, he had the advantage of being defended by big men unaccustomed to defending on the perimeter, which also gave him an advantage off the dribble, and he will have to improve his ballhandling to be more than a straight-line driver. Similarly, on the defensive end of the court, Ejim will have to prove that he’s capable of staying in front of quicker, more athletic and even bigger wing players, as well as chasing shooters around screens.
[NBA DRAFT: Melvin Ejim gets a helping hand from Fred Hoiberg]
Draft projection: Ejim’s toughness, track record of gradual improvement and character make him a strong candidate to not only be drafted in the second round, but stick on an NBA roster, assuming he can significantly upgrade his perimeter skills. His play in summer league will be a good gauge of whether he’s able to make the transition and in training camp, his on-court intangibles should give him a chance to create a role for himself. It’s easy to envision Ejim being a spot rotational player early in his career, due to his versatility, and as time goes on, turning himself into a dependable, long-term complementary piece with the ability to contribute on either end of the court.