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Evaluating TCU guard RJ Nembhard’s NBA Draft Prospects

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The 6-foot-5 shooting guard has surfaced in a few mock drafts recently, but could one more season raise his stock?

NCAA Basketball: Kansas State at Texas Christian Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

It’s never too early to look at who the next top prospects are in college basketball. TCU has faced a handful of talented young players this season including Oklahoma State freshman Cade Cunningham, who will likely enter the 2021 NBA Draft and be taken as a top-5 selection. But while the one-and-done freshmen and G-League standouts like Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga are garnering a lot of attention, upperclassmen including Horned Frog shooting guard RJ Nembhard have begun surfacing in mock drafts.

Nembhard is currently in his fourth season with the Horned Frogs, posting career-high averages across the board including points (16.8 per game), assists (4.2), rebounds (4.6) and 3-point shooting percentage (36 percent). The redshirt junior has improved in every season since beginning his career with TCU in 2017, and his increased production has landed him on the radar of pro scouts and mock draft experts.

The 6-foot-5, 200-pound shooting guard is shooting roughly 42 percent from the field and has been TCU’s leading offensive contributor for most of the 2020-21 season. While Nembhard has struggled with his efficiency lately, his stretch from early December through early January was arguably his best run during any point in his career as a Horned Frog. Over the six games from Dec. 9, 2020 through Jan. 5, 2021, Nembhard averaged 19.8 points per game while shooting 57.5 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point land.

NBADraft.net recently updated its 2021 Mock Draft on Feb. 18, ranking Nembhard as the 25th overall prospect on its Big Board. NBADraftRoom.com has Nembhard falling into the second round, going to the Oklahoma City Thunder with the 35th overall pick. NBAScoutingLive.com projects Nembhard could land anywhere from the second round to undrafted free agency.

Nembhard’s recent struggles could be the reason his name hasn’t surfaced on mock drafts from outlets such as CBS Sports, ESPN or Bleacher Report. However, although his shooting percentages have fallen, he’s continued scoring the basketball and dropped at least seven assists in three of his last six games. Nembhard has reached double digits in every game this season minus the opener against Tulsa, and his aggressiveness has resulted in at least eight free-throw attempts in three of his last four games.

TCU sits near the bottom of the Big 12 standings with an 11-10 record and a 4-8 record in the conference. With only a handful of contests remaining, Nembhard could see his name appear on more mocks with a strong finish to his redshirt junior season. Nembhard will have an interesting decision as to whether or not he should come back to the Horned Frogs for a fifth season. TCU will have Mike Miles, Francisco Farabello, PJ Fuller and possible Kevin Samuel returning, which could increase the team’s chances of success.

The second round seems like the most logical landing spot for Nembhard if he can finish out his season on a high note. Should Nembhard find a way to become a first-round selection, he’d be the second TCU prospect taken in the first round after the Memphis Grizzlies traded up to select Desmond Bane with the 30th overall pick in 2020. On the other hand, Nembhard could be motivated to return should his shooting woes continue.