With around a month remaining until the 2020 NBA Draft, the NBA Draft Combine’s interview process has already taken place.
Among the top prospects that have been interviewed, University of Memphis forward Precious Achiuwa spoke specifically about his relationship with two particular players on the Toronto Raptors.
“Pascal is from Cameroon and OG is from Nigeria and those are guys that I actually know both of them personally,” Achiuwa stated during his combine interview.
“Those are guys that are put into positions by their team to do what’s asked of them. And whatever team, whatever coach, whatever program I fall into, I’ll do whatever they ask of me to do, too. At the end of the day it’s what they’ve been asked to do (by their team) and what I’ll be asked to do and how successful I am in those roles.”
Achiuwa said he has not interviewed with the Raptors, who have the No. 29 overall pick, which shouldn’t come as much surprise as he’s one of the best big men available in the 2020 NBA Draft class, expected to go in the lottery.
It was an interesting first season at Memphis for Achiuwa, as his teammate and the nation’s top prospect James Wiseman was handed a 12-game suspension by the NCAA for accepting money to help move his family to Memphis. Shortly thereafter, Wiseman elected to forgo his freshman season and declare for the draft.
That put Achiuwa in the spotlight immediately, where he averaged 15.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 1.1 steals and 1.0 assists per game on 49.3% shooting from the field and 32.5% from 3-point range en route to earning American Athletic Conference Player of the Year.
He was asked if Wiseman’s departure had anything to do with catching people by surprise this past season while playing a role in him turning pro but Achiuwa denied the claim.
“My goal was to put myself in a position where I could become a pro,” the 21-year-old told the media.
“A lot of things happened last year and for me it was just, every situation that happened, it really showed me I could thrive under adversity and thrive no matter what the situation is.”
Playing under head coach Penny Hardaway with Mike Miller as an assistant, Achiuwa was learning from the best in terms of what it takes to be ready to succeed at the next level. When asked what coach Hardaway specifically taught him about getting ready for the NBA, it was hard to just nail down one thing.
“A lot of things. How to be a pro. How to approach the game. There’s so many things that I don’t know where to start or where to finish. Mainly finding a role and how to be successful in it.”
And while finding a role is key for every young player’s success in the league, Achiuwa is in a unique situation as a 6-foot-9, 225 lbs. forward whose athleticism and mobility fits the mold of today’s NBA perfectly.
He was asked if he has a preference of playing the 4 (power forward) or the 5 (centre), to which he stated, “I’m very, very comfortable playing the 4 or 5. That’s the way the NBA is going right now. … That’s the trend of where basketball is turning to and I’m comfortable playing either position.”
Whichever team ends up with Achiuwa, they’ll have the ability to groom a player with plenty of potential and the versatility to become a prototypical big for the way the game is being played today.
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