Photo Credits: John Thys/Belga/Sipa USA
The Oklahoma City Thunder are peeping through every crevice to find this draft’s next gem. In the past two days, the Thunder have brought in two new prospects for workouts.
Let’s check them out:
Antwerp Intl. guard Vrenz Bleijenbergh (6-foot-11; 205 pounds; 20 years old)
Source: Vrenz Bleijenbergh (7/4)
Overseas Averages: 9.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.7 steals, 23.4 minutes
When you look at which prospects are flying up radars, no man is trending quite like Vrenz Bleijenbergh. Vrenz fits the mold of a modern day point guard, but he does so in the frame of a frontcourt figure. At 6-foot-10 Vrenz has a proficient understanding of working out the pick-and-roll while also being able to slice through passes to cutters that smaller guards simply could not make. Vrenz’s potential also expands out to the perimeter as his 37.5% clip from distance came off of 4.8 tries a night. As a finisher, Vrenz can elevate but his silky smooth scoop are a novelty of his that he can convert with either hand. His potential is evident, it’s just a matter of who is willing to roll the dice.
As aforementioned, Vrenz is a one-of-a-kind prospect when looking at his measurables, and his overall playstyle. At 6-foot-10 Vrenz is bound to swindle frontcourt defenders his way in the halfcourt, and utilize both his ball handling and passing ability to find easy conversions. Vrenz’s jumper also is a point of emphasis as in his 10 appearances with Antwerp Intl., it was hard to take him out of his stride or get a steady contest — as his jumper is much quicker than a near 7-footer. Even on the defensive end, Vrenz’s lanky frame gives him the marking of a multi-positional defender at the next level. For a player widely mocked outside of the top 20 prospects, you’re not going to find many players with a ceiling quite as high as Vrenz Bleijenbergh.
Bleijenbergh’s current build makes him a capable defender against either forward, but with weighing just 205 pounds, there may be a learning curve defending back-to-basket centers. This concern also translates to speedy guards as he can fall victim to getting beat off of stepbacks. Offensively Bleijenbergh has potential at every aspect of the floor, but it should be noted that as easy it is for him to heat up from distance, it’s just as likely he could find himself ice cold beyond the arch.
Draft Evaluation: Mid-First to Early Second Rounder
Shawnee State center EJ Onu (6-foot-8; 240 pounds; 21 years old)
Source: Rylan Stiles (7/5)
Senior Averages: 16.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 4.6 blocks, 29.6 minutes
EJ Onu has caught the attention of many during the draft process, it’s very obvious as to why. Onu torched the NAIA making use of his 6-foot-8 height coupled with his 7-foot-8 wingspan to overpower his competition. Onu is a serious rim protector averaging 4.6 blocks this past season, but also tallied three in both of his G-League Combine scrimmages. Onu has even tapped into a jumped as he 40% from distance on 3.9 attempts last season, though he did shoot 62% at the charity stripe. Onu’s potential may be handicapped as he is 22-years-old, but he’s already a steal in the second round if his current playstyle sticks.
If it was not made clear enough — EJ Onu is unparalleled with his frame. Onu’s consistency of protecting the basket came in all forms during college, standing blocks, chasedowns, pin blocks, he did them all. Onu was gritty around the basket offensively, but his real potential stems from his shooting ability as with a clear upper hand defensively, his room to be effective on both sides of the ball make him a legitimate prospect despite his age.
EJ’s lower tier of competition can be a turn off to some evaluators, but as displayed by previous NAIA products (Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman), you don’t need to be in Division 1 to be successful in the NBA. As a nitpick, Onu could improve with his release speed on jumpers, but it’s not a major red flag. The real negatives for Onu all come in question mark form as he had good foot speed in the NAIA, but it’ll be interesting to see how he defends against more decorated guards when caught in a pick-and-roll.
Draft Evaluation: Mid-Second to Undrafted