Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 23, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.
Player Name: Kawhi Leonard
School: San Diego State
Height/Weight: 6’6, 227 lbs.
NBA Position: Combo Forward
Projected Draft Range: Mid- to Late Lottery
Overview: In his two seasons under Steve Fisher at San Diego State, Leonard took the Mountain West by storm. He won the MWC Tournament MVP as a freshman after grabbing 21 rebounds in the championship game, then backed that up by notching a second-team All-American spot as a sophomore. Leonard didn’t really bloom until his senior year of high school, and even then was still just the 56th-best prospect in the nation (according to ESPNU), but he averaged over ten rebounds per game in his time on the Mesa and developed into a versatile full-court threat, capable of pulling down a monster rebound over a seven-footer on the defensive end, turning and pushing the ball upcourt and either finishing at the rim, pulling up for a midrange jumper or finding a teammate on the break. Despite measuring out at an underwhelming 6’6, Leonard is plenty long enough to play the power forward in the NBA, with a 7’3 wingspan and a 8’10 standing reach. However, Leonard’s terrific ballhandling skills, ever-improving jumper and ability to defend a wide range of offensive players means he is just as capable of playing the three at the next level. In fact, at SDSU, Leonard was most often seen working out with the guards rather than the big men. Leonard’s athletic testing at the NBA Combine returned some very average numbers (just a 32.5-inch vertical leap and just three reps at 185 pounds), but Leonard’s frame can definitely get stronger and he’s done just fine so far without jaw-dropping leaping ability.
Will Translate to the NBA: Leonard’s versatility gives him any number of ways to help out his future team. A tenacious defender, capable of guarding the two, three or four spot, he could develop into a lockdown caliber player. And his rebounding isn’t going anywhere, as he’ll be at least the equal of most fours in the league on the glass, while immediately putting his name in the hat for best rebounding small forward on the planet. Throw in the fact that Leonard is a tireless worker both on and off the floor and he’s got a very bright future.