There could be three potential draft picks from the University of Miami on Thursday night. Perhaps the least hyped of them all is center Tonye Jekiri, who is next up in our NBA Draft Profile series on InsideTheACC.
- Class: Senior
- Age: 21
- Height: 6’11”
- Weight: 240 lbs.
- Wingspan: 7’2″
- Standing Reach: 9’1″
- No-Step Vertical: 26″
- 28.4 minutes per game
- 7.6 points per game
- 8.6 rebounds per game
- 1.0 block per game
- 52.5% shooting overall
- 57.6% free throw shooting
Tonye Jekiri is the one player on the Miami Hurricanes with NBA Draft aspirations who has garnered the least amount of attention, both in college, and as a prospect.
At nearly 7’0″ tall, weighing in at 240 lbs., Jekiri manned the middle of the paint for the Hurricanes both offensively and defensively for the last four seasons. He culminated his career with the Hurricanes this past season in Coral Gables by averaging 7.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game on 52.5% shooting from the floor. While these statistics are certainly adequate, Jekiri still has some detractors when discussing his potential as an NBA player.
First, Jekiri is not the most athletic big man in this draft. He only averaged 1.0 block per game as a senior, and at time seemed to struggle with his vertical leap when competing for rebounds against opposing players. His defense is adequate overall, but the one knock on his game on that end of the floor is that Jekiri sometimes got agitated in the paint and committed “dumb” fouls at inopportune times for Miami. His 3.1 fouls per game that he committed in both his junior and senior seasons are certainly a cause for concern, and will be an aspect of Jekiri’s game that scouts will not take lightly.
Offensively, Jekiri’s footwork was decent throughout his time with Miami, but there were certainly times where he relied a bit too much on overpowering the man that was guarding him to score points. His frame is unquestioned, and should suit him well in the NBA as long as he lands in the right system.
The obvious concern is that the NBA game is not what it once was, as the league’s best teams seem to be going away from the conventional back to the basket big men, while trending more towards forwards and centers who can stretch the floor. Jekiri is not a jump shooter, and I’m unsure that it is something that he will ever be able to develop. The one aspect of the college game that scouts look for when evaluating how good or bad a prospect can be when shooting the ball at the professional level is a player’s free throw percentage. Unfortunately for Jekiri, his shooting from the line is quite poor, as he only made 57.6% of his attempts during his senior season with the Hurricanes.
Is there a spot on an NBA roster for Tonye Jekiri? There are many teams who could use a player of his size and strength, and while he will definitely be a project and may take some time to develop, I believe that he will find a spot on an NBA roster, whether he is drafted or not. His sweet spot in Thursday night’s draft will likely be late in the second round, but he should be able to get an opportunity as an undrafted free agent this summer if he does not end up hearing his name called.
NBA Draft Projection: Late Second Round Pick