Friday, 09 April 2021 13:51 Written by Jian Lan
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2029 Rookie Draft's Most Wanted

New Mexico SF Justin Clark is among the most coveted prospects in the 2029 OBWL Rookie Draft class.

Its time. The new OBWL season kicks off with the 2029 Rookie Draft. Like many prior seasons, this is one of the most exciting times in the league, especially for teams that missed the playoffs. This year's rookie class is deep, not elite talent deep, but quality in every position and for every style of play. Below we project the lottery picks, the first 12 selections, based on player and team needs. Canada is on the clock.

#1 Justin Clark, 19yrs old, 6'7" SF, Toronto Huskies

The Toronto Huskies start the post-Flowers era with the number one overall selection. Fun fact...Charles Flowers was NOT the first pick in his class. He was behind Val Crumley. This time around the Huskies will get the top spot and the pick should be Justin Clark. The athletic wing forward from New Mexico is the best prospect this year. He did not put up stellar numbers in college, averaging 6.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 20.9 minutes, but the talent and upside are undeniable. Offensively, Clark has the physical traits to finish at the rim and has a smooth jump-shot to match. For his position he has good court vision and can be an excellent facilitator. Defensively, teams might find Clark to be lacking but given his size, the ability to generate turnovers and alter shots, he is more than adequate and can become better. Also, the Huskies have Herbert Vetter (last year's #8 pick) who is a superb perimeter defender. The two will complement each other nicely. Clark does come with some risks, namely not a three-point threat and very little physical endurance. He's going to need extra sessions on the cardio machines if he wants to guide the Huskies back to prominence.

#2 Ivory Cisco, 19yrs old, 6'2" PG, York Labradors

Toronto goes back to back, except this time it's the Labradors. The pick here is simple as the Labradors finally get a true point guard in Ivory Cisco. The Labs, formerly Dragoons, have struggled mightily since the days of Jorge Denis to find a long-term solution at lead guard. The lack of a true point guard has contributed to the team's offensive woes. Cisco will step in as an immediate starter and upgrade over the journeymen that have been manning the position. The 6'2" Sophomore out of Duke is lightening quick and his incredible first step can get him pass anyone. As he puts on more muscle, he'll be able to convert drives into points in the paint and easy assists. Defensively Cisco is OBWL ready as a perimeter defender. The potential is there for him to be a franchise point guard. Also, of note, selecting Cisco will free up Geraldo Ibanez to play shooting guard full time instead of toggling between the 1 and 2.

#3 Kelvin Penrod, 22yrs old, 7'2" PF, York Labradors

It's a Toronto three-peat as the Labradors also have the #3 pick. After getting their PG of the future, the team turn their attention inward and focus on a big man. It's a toss-up between Kelvin Penrod and Tom Blalock as to who should be the first big man off the board. But Penrod gets the nod due to team needs since both are similarly talented. Toronto has struggled in recent years to put up points and do it efficiently. That stops here. Penrod is a HUGE 7'2" 290lbs interior presence that dominated in college. As a senior at UMBC he averaged 17.9 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 30.6 minutes while shooting 54.5%. While there are other players with higher upside, Penrod is what he is. He will be an absolute force in the paint and impossible to stop if he gets position. On defense is where he falls a little short. His lack of mobility hinders his ability to defend and block shots. Instead of a plus defender, Penrod is merely average. One part of Penrod's game that's not talked about much is his passing. On a team like the Labradors where facilitators are lacking, Penrod's playmaking is a much-needed addition.

#4 Merrill Manuel, 19yrs old, 6'3" SG, South Florida Sharks

Merrill Manuel is one of the most talented players in the draft. He would be top 3, if not top 2, if the draft was based solely on potential. The shooting guard out of Kansas State played only one season where he averaged 12.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists and shot 41.8% in 27.3 minutes. Not overly impressive. But Manuel showed flashes of a much better player and has the talent to get there. Gifted with incredible athleticism, he can jump out of the gym and is capable of taking over a game on both ends of the court. As with many young players Manuel is prone to turnovers and silly fouls but with training and coaching, he should overcome those hurdles. South Florida is in full rebuild mode and the Sharks will welcome the talents that Manuel brings on the court.

#5 Tom Blalock, 19yrs old, 6'10" C, Denver Demons

When the Demons made their Finals appearance much of the credit rightfully went to Greg Fore. But that season Denver was a top 3 defensive team behind the twin towers of Darin Deans and Charles Cazares. Deans was gone that offseason and the defense, and Denver, collapsed the following year. Its been down ever since. With the fifth pick, Tom Blalock goes to the mile high city to help right the ship. Blalock is not ready to contribute on day 1 but he would not need to as the team continues to grow and rebuild around a young core of Michael McLellan and Hobert Shell. He'll never be a scorer like Penrod, but Denver has post scorers in Erik Langlois and Abel Vick. As Blalock matures, he can become a disruptive force in the paint and be a defensive anchor for the Demons.

#6 Brant French, 22yrs old, 6'2" PG, San Diego Storm

Here is where the draft gets interesting. San Diego drafted Roman Roberson 2 seasons ago with the first overall pick to be their point guard. He has not lived up to the draft capital and regressed in his second season. The Storm also have Julius Atherton, former #2 overall, another lead guard. Do they roll the dice on another? We believe they do. Brant French is more of a combo-guard than a pure point guard. He can slide next to Roberson and form a fast paced, attacking backcourt that will have opponents on their heels. French averaged 17.2 points in his Senior year at Mississippi and is not afraid to take shots. He averaged 13.6 attempts in 28.7 minutes, 4 from beyond the arc. Defensively, French will be undersized at the 2 position but his quickness and strength will allow him to stay with his man and not get pushed around.

#7 Wayne Hogan, 22yrs old, 6'4" SG, Vancouver Highlanders

Vancouver is a team in flux. As the Highlanders prepare to transition from Domenic Baum, what better way is there than to find a successor. Wayne Hogan has the blue-collar mentality that is Vancouver. While Hogan can score, he is not afraid to mix it up and do some of the dirty work. As a Senior in New Mexico, he averaged 13.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.3 blocks. Hogan is one of the best perimeter defenders in the draft and can play both guard positions. He'll be able to, not only contribute but, start from day 1. His versatility will also allow Vancouver to move Dennis Pichardo back to small forward and save him from having to chase quicker guards all around the court.

#8 Bennie Tatum, 20yrs old, 7'1" PF, Portland Lumberjacks

It was one of the most disappointing seasons ever for Portland. After pushing into the conference finals as a 7th seed, the Lumberjacks imploded and found themselves in the lottery. It's now rumored that GM Trent Callus is on his way out. With no serious need on the team, the Lumberjacks takes the best available. Bennie Tatum will add to an already strong front court that features Roger Desfontaines and Kendall Melanson. Tatum will not be seeing much playing time behind two All Star quality big men. But it will allow Tatum to learn the game at his pace. The big man has the tools to be a well-rounded post player. He is surprisingly adept at shooting 3s, connecting on 45% of his attempts (2.4 attempts per game). As a Junior at Duke, Tatum averaged 13.6 points, 8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 29.6 minutes.

#9 Kevin Laverty, 22yrs old, 6'4" SG, Quebec Coyotes

Quebec is in a rebuilding phase and need talent in every position except small forward where Horacio Vega leads the team. Kevin Laverty will be an immediate contributor for the Coyotes. The Senior guard out of Indiana averaged 16.2 points, 4 rebounds, 1.8 assists in 28.2 minutes and shot 48.9%. Besides been a very efficient scorer, Laverty is the top perimeter defender in this draft. Quebec does have Kirby Cohen, who was selected #10, at shooting guard but he is not suited as an everyday starter. Cohen is more a 6th man type that is perfect as an offensive spark at SF/SG. Laverty provides a much-needed perimeter defender to help Vega.

#10 Michael Clarke, 20yrs old, 6'4" SG, Indiana Invaders

With future Hall of Famer Cleveland Hall in the twilight of his career, Indiana selects Michael Clarke as a likely replacement. Not an overpowering scorer like Hall, Clarke is a jack-of-all trades type player. The uber athletic guard out of Texas averaged 16.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists in his Sophomore year. While his offensive game is still developing, Clarke is already an excellent defender due to his physical traits. Despite his size he's able to use his hops and strength to grab rebounds over bigger players. No one will replace Hall, but Clarke fits well on an Invaders team that likes to run and attack with speed.

#11 Chris Andrews, 23yrs old, 6'8" SF, Las Vegas Sting

The Sting started last season hot on the backs of Amando Izaguirre and Hugh Denton before cooling off. Point guard is a clear need for the team but Las Vegas is rebuilding and needs to go with best available. Chris Andrews is a big wing player that might even be able to play some minutes at power forward. There's not much upside in Andrews but he is a ready now player. He has a well-rounded arsenal for putting up points including one of the deadliest jump-shot in the class. Defensively he can comfortably guard anywhere on the court. There are very little holes in Andrews' game. He'll never be a consistent three-point threat and he is not much of a rebounder.

#12 James Lampkin, 18yrs, 6'8" PF, Chicago Blaze

It's weird to not see Chicago with a top 5 pick. After several seasons of being a bottom tier team, the Blaze look to have turned the corner and can now be labeled as a playoff hopeful. Several recent draft picks have panned out: Byron Dambrosio, Danny Largent and Erasmo Dryden. The team will add to their stable of young talents by selecting James Lampkin. Lampkin is an intriguing prospect for a team to take a chance on. On one hand, he's undersized and a marginal defender. But upon closer look, Lampkin is a fantastic finisher around the rim. He's light on his feet and one of the quickest bigs in the draft/league. Despite being only 6'8" he is strong like an ox and can hold his position with anyone. There is no question he is raw but he has potential and might turn out to be the steal of the draft.


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