NBA Draft Hopes Fall Short for SBU's Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley

Matt Mobley (left) and Jaylen Adams during this year's NCAA tournament. Credits: David Andoh

UPDATE: Jaylen Adams has signed a free agent contract with the Atlanta Hawks.

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — For the most part, eyes have always been on Jaylen Adams. After his four years playing for the university, Adams is ranked sixth in career points in program history (the most of any guard), second on the Bonnies' all-time 3-pointer list, and third overall in career assists for the Brown and White. On top of all that, Adams was named the 2018 co-Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. For those reasons, and plenty others, all eyes have still been on Adams this spring.  

Adams has covered quite a bit of ground over the past few months while earning workout opportunities with 13 NBA teams. From the New York Knicks to the Los Angeles Lakers and plenty of teams in between, Adams toured the United States, showing almost half of the league’s teams what he’s got, in hopes on getting a call during Thursday’s NBA Draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

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Adams wasn’t alone in this search to wow NBA scouts. His backcourt partner and right-hand man for the past two seasons, Matt Mobley, also got his fair share of looks from NBA teams. Playing alongside Adams, Mobley’s senior campaign brought him a new program record for 3-pointers in a season (105). And Mobley owns the Atlantic 10 tournament record for most 3-pointers in a game (9).

Going into Thursday night’s draft, the St. Bonaventure community crossed their fingers in anticipation to hear one, if not both, of their beloved guards’ names get called by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver or Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum.

But Adams' and Mobley’s draft hopes would continue to be just that — hopes.

Neither Adams nor Mobley got his name called Thursday night. While it was a letdown for Bonnies fans, Washington Post national NBA writer Tim Bontemps expected teams to pass on Adams.

“I like Jaylen a lot, but I don’t see him getting drafted,” Bontemps, a Bona journalism graduate, said before the draft.

A source close to the team, who preferred not to be named, had similar predictions regarding the outcome of Thursday night.

“I don’t think [Adams] gets drafted, but will quickly sign as an undrafted free agent. My guess is with Atlanta,” the unnamed source said.

While those two experts did not plan on seeing Adams' or Mobley’s NBA dreams come true Thursday night, both anticipate the duo playing in some facet of the NBA.

“I do think [Adams] will be a Summer League guy. Expect him to get a G-League job at minimum,” Bontemps added.

As for the unnamed source, they believe Mobley will also get a shot this summer with an NBA team’s Summer League squad.

Regardless of Thursday night’s outcomes, Adams and Mobley both have NBA potential.

The duo was largely responsible for the Bonnies' best season since winning their first NCAA tournament game in 48 years. The last time the Bonnies won a tournament game, Bob Lanier went first overall in the draft that same year. Just over four decades later, the Orlando Magic selected Andrew Nicholson as the 19th overall pick, making him the last St. Bonaventure player to be drafted. Both players have their numbers retired by the Bonnies.

Of the four major North American sports leagues, the NBA is widely considered the hardest to get into.

For instance, the MLB draft has 40 rounds, bringing in close to 1,200 players. And the NHL and NFL drafts last seven rounds a piece, adding over 200 new players to their leagues.

The NBA draft is different though. It’s one night, two rounds, and only 60 players are selected. While the Summer League and G-League do serve as places for developing players to compete for roster spots, the idea teams have going into the NBA Draft is that their selection will make an immediate impact on their rosters. Of the four major U.S. sports leagues, none are similar to the NBA in that sense.

For Adams and Mobley, development will be the name of the game if they want to keep their NBA hopes alive. Development, though, is something the backcourt pair and the Bonnies as a whole know well.

When head coach Mark Schmidt took over the team in the 2007-08 season, the Bonnies were coming off one of the worst  — if not the worst — patch of seasons in program history. During the 2004-05 season, the Bonnies went 2-26. Thirteen seasons later, Adams and Mobley are known to have worked together to develop the program into an NCAA tournament-caliber team. The peak of the pair’s collegiate careers came after a 65-58 win over UCLA in Dayton, Ohio, only to be followed by a 77-62 loss to Florida in Dallas during the first round of the NCAA tournament.

So maybe that’s all Adams and Mobley need — continued development.

While the pair were considered one of the best backcourts in college basketball over the past two years, there’s still a bit of growing the pair has to do before they’re ready for the big show.

While physically growing would have helped their draft chances (both players are considered undersized for the NBA), that isn’t an option.

The true test in Adams' and Mobley’s developments will come in the opportunities experts believe NBA teams are likely to make for them after the Barclay Center clears out and the draft is over.

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