SALT LAKE CITY — Utah State center Neemias Queta was one of just 66 players invited to the NBA Combine last weekend. That fact alone shows that the NBA is more than just a pipe dream for Queta.
And he showed some good things: He was one of just four prospects to measure over 7-feet with shoes on, with the largest hands of the group and a 7-4 wingspan.
There were less flattering numbers: Queta was among the slower centers in speed drills and his 0-point performance against the towering Tacko Fall (to be fair, a near-impossible matchup for many draft prospects) in his first scrimmage wasn’t the best impression.
So after the long weekend in Chicago, the question still looms: Should the Aggie star center come back to Logan or stay in the NBA draft? He has until May 29 to decide.
Queta’s first foray into the NBA draft world actually came a week before the combine. On May 11, he was part of a six-player workout with the Utah Jazz.
“He looked pretty good,” Utah Jazz vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin said following the workout. “He’s still a young kid, so he’s got some things he’s got to work on.”
While Perrin said he doesn't tell a player what he should or shouldn’t do when it comes to the draft, it certainly sounds like the Jazz brass think Queta would benefit from another year in Logan.
“I think the one thing that impressed me a little bit, because I hadn’t seen him play a lot is, he’s got a bit of a shooting touch,” Perrin said. “He’s not strictly a back-to-the-basket player. So that will help him, hopefully at Utah State and in the future. He’s still got a young body, so he’s gonna have to get a lot stronger. He got pushed around a little bit today. He reacted well defensively, so it was a good workout.”
Queta also reacted well at the combine.
Neemias Queta at the NBA Combine
|Height w/o Shoes||6’10.75"|
|Standing vertical leap||24”|
|Max vertical leap||32.5”|
|Max bench press||1|
|Shuttle run||3.45 seconds|
|Three-quarter run||3.73 seconds|
After struggling in his first scrimmage on Thursday, Queta bounced back with three points, six rebounds and a very active defensive performance on Friday. He ran the floor well, rebounded better and altered plenty of shots. How he looked on Friday just might have some teams taking a chance on the still raw, but very capable big man.
“His ability to naturally impact the game at this level on defense was evident, frustrating opponents into misses on a number of occasions,” Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo wrote. “He will need to add some weight and polish his game offensively, ideally harnessing some of his jump shooting potential in a more game applicable setting. But there aren’t many mobile bigs built like Queta, and he’s worth a hard look as a long-term project who could help a team’s rotation down the road.”
Woo even has Queta going in the first round in his latest mock draft.
Others, though, think it would better serve him to develop more in college. CBS Sports' Kyle Boone said that how Queta responded after his tough first scrimmage was impressive and believes he could be one of college basketball's best big man next season — something that should help him in the 2020 draft.
“Queta might be a year away from being really good; if he comes back to Utah State next season, I expect he'll be dominant and enter next year's draft as a center to keep tabs on,” Boone wrote. “For now, he's an interesting prospect with physical tools that will have teams asking to see more.”
There’s a common thread for Queta. He’s got the size and athleticism, but he's still raw. The raw part is what Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman took away from Queta’s combine performance.
“Limited offensively, Queta's finishing and shot-blocking aren't likely enough to warrant first-round interest this year,” Wasserman wrote. “Returning to school for a potential breakout sophomore campaign seems like the logical move, depending on Queta's interest in more college versus developing in the G League.”