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Monday, 13 January 2020 13:12 Written by Chris Noonan
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2026 Rookie Draft Recap


2026-Vela-01
Many general managers question MAAC Freshman of Year Ambrose Vela's ability to transition to the pros and his stock fell sharply on draft day.

The 2026 draft is in the books, and there were few really big surprises. The number 1 pick was the number 1 pick.  The top 5 were arguably the top 5. And the over-rated players, based on where they were drafted, were indeed overrated. Here's a look at the highlights for the 20206 draft.

THE TOP FIVE

#1: Byron Dambrosio, Center (Maryland) to Chicago Blaze

There was no argument who was going #1 this draft. Dambrosio is the best player in the draft right now, and in a league a bit short on good big men, stands to be one of the better centers of the future. The Blaze are trying the "develop your own team" method of rebuilding, so adding Dambrosio to Erasmo Dryden and the #5 pick (more on him in a moment) is a good base to start with.

#2: Marcel Bradley, Small Forward (Texas) to Portland Lumberjacks

Fully half of the projected top-10 are small forwards, and Bradley was the pick of the crop for that position. With youth on his side, the 18 year old All-American will now have years to develop into a premium forward. I would expect Bradley to head to the D this year, but GM Trent Callus and head coach Celino Cortino may exercise something more dramatic.

#3: Geraldo Ibanez, Shooting Guard (Texas) to Ft. Worth Dragoons

Ibanez was ranked #1 by the league, but being drafted third is not a fall from grace by any means. Marcel Bradley's teammate in Texas, he too will see limited if any minutes in league play with Rufus Motley still in the lineup.

#4: William Azevedo, Power Forward (Seton Hall) to Anaheim Archers

Don't expect man points from Azevedo. A defensive specialist, he's a small wall on the court and adds an unexpected passing game to PF position. Unlike the previous 2 picks, I'm expecting Azevedo to get significant time with the Archers this season.

#5: Jose Lui, Small Forward (Oklahoma State) to Chicago Blaze

Rounding out the top 5, and Chicago's second pick, Lui has the making of being a formidable both-ways player, with a great outside shot paired to a good defense and boards game. This gives the Blaze a solid young 1-2 combo with him and Daniel West at the 3-spot. Or, with nothing to lose really as the last place team, maybe an unorthodox more of West to Power Forward is an option.

TOP TEN PICKS

C Byron Dambrosio
SF Marcel Bradley
SG Geraldo Ibanez
PF William Azevedo
SF Jose Lui
C William Hoopes
SF Thomas Carter
SF Gerald Mathers
SF Erick Patrick
SF Ambrose Vela

Rookie of the Year Prediction: Dambroiso is guaranteed to take that honor. Azevedo and Lui may figure into the dark horse projections, but there's no contest in this years rookie list.

Highest Rise to the First Round:Gary Tyler, Small Forward (Syracuse) to Honolulu Inferno - I realize being the Conference Play of the Year for the Big East may be a big deal, but Tyler wasn't expected to be drafted at all, let alone in the first round. And yes, the last 1st in any given draft can be seen as a throwaway, but.... in any case, expect to see Tyler with a mediocre career in the D, and maybe get a coaching job at a high school when he retires.

Left at the Altar:Jason Minard, Power Forward - Minard gets the award for being the highest-ranked player on the draft board *not* drafted. The 19 year old declared for the draft after his freshman year at DePaul, and he did receive All-Freshman in the Big East, but whatever he was selling, no teams were buying.

 

 

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Comments   

 
0 #1 Eric Stelle 2020-01-13 17:01
Azevedo will not score nearly enough to be in the conversation but, if Ibanez gets run at PG, he might score enough to take it. I'd also look for Mathers if he gets playing time over Motley (unlikely given Motley being the man there but camp and preseason can change things).

You never know though... maybe I'll have James Ross take the league by storm. ;) :D
 

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