University of Miami NBA Outlook: Takeaways from Baha Mar Hoops Championship

Film Other

Miami went 3-0 during Feast Week, hosting in-city foe Florida International (unofficially part of Feast Week events, however), then traveled to the Bahamas to face Georgia and Kansas State in the Baha Mar Hoops Championship. In this stretch, scouts were able to see Miami’s top prospects face off against good out of conference teams with a variety of different types of matchups. The prospects that NBA teams consider to be realistic NBA targets are: Matt Cleveland, Norchad Omier, Nijel Pack, Wooga Poplar, and Bensley Joseph.

Matt Cleveland, Wing

For the week, Cleveland averaged 18.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 1.7 APG on 70/67/80. Despite shooting just 4-10 on jump shots (3-6 from 3) in the Bahamas, what really won scouts over was his at-rim prowess, shooting 13-16 across 3 games at the rim. It is worth noting that he made all five of his jumpers against FIU before the Baha Mar Hoops Championship. While he did not get to the rim off his own drives outside of five transition drives, Cleveland was fantastic at cutting into the holes of the defense at the right time. He also followed shots and was able to get offensive rebounds and putbacks, displaying his high motor and overall strong rebounding skill.

As a shooter, Cleveland was comfortable shooting over defenders and deciding if he was shooting or moving the ball quickly. While his form is a bit unorthodox in the way his release functions, he seems to have made strides as a shooter this season from his two sub-70% free throw percentage seasons at Florida State. However, a five game sample size does not negate 200+ free throws at FSU in 59 games. That being said, the improvement is something teams will keep an eye on, and if he can shoot 35+% from 3 and ~73% as a low bar from the free throw line, teams may be more willing to give his jump shot the benefit of the doubt.

Another area that popped this last week was how effective he was flashing near the free throw line. Again, he quickly made decisions which made a big difference in how impactful he was. Whether it was his jump shooting on top of defenders or finding cutters and shooters, Cleveland showed good decision-making.

Norchad Omier, Forward

Omier is difficult to project at the next level due to being severely undersized for a big without a jump shot, and some negative habits that need to be ironed out. A few times throughout Feast Week, Omier had some defensive lapses and often was too nonchalant on the defensive end. Scouts worry about his feel for the game, and with minimal jump shooting and form that needs to be improved, his NBA upside is bleak barring a drastic overhaul of his game. Omier was at the NBA G League Elite Camp in May before he withdrew his name from the NBA Draft to return to Miami, and likely got feedback to improve the skills that players at his height are ahead of him on.

One area that Omier thrives at that he isn’t given enough credit for is his free throw line passing, especially out of flashes. Like Cleveland, Omier can quickly make correct decisions and see the floor, and Matt Cleveland was often a top beneficiary to Omier’s floor vision for cutters. 

Nijel Pack, Guard

Pack was one of the strongest producers in Feast Week, shooting 10-21 on jumpers (5-9 from catch & shoot, 5-12 from off the dribble jumpers). His averages across 3 games were 20 PPG, 3 RPG, 2.7 APG, and 1.7 SPG on splits of 50/43.5/79.

Most of the guards under six feet that have played in the NBA over recent years all have outstanding handles or are elite playmakers for others, neither of which likely applies to Pack. Defensively, Pack is hard to hide defensively because he doesn’t have a single standout trait on that end. As for his point guard skills, his decision-making will need to become stronger. Despite minimal turnover issues throughout his collegiate career, Pack doesn’t make advanced reads that NBA point guards constantly do, and he can struggle to score over longer guards.

While Pack’s jump shot is elite, both off the dribble and spotting up, which will give him more opportunities than the average player at his height, he will have to find ways to latch on when he can’t spot up as a sub six-foot off-ball guard.

Wooga Poplar, Wing

Jump shooting, defense, and intangibles are all extremely positive traits. Despite being 6’5 which is a tweener height, he can capably play the wings, and his stock could especially take off if his wingspan turns out to be noticeably positive at the NBA Draft Combine in May. Defensively, Poplar’s footwork has been impressive on drives, being able to recover going opposite directions and being quick-twitch going from long closeout one direction to digging deep on the opposite side without sacrificing positioning.

For the week, Poplar averaged 15.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.3 APG, and 0.7 SPG on splits of 45.5/50/100 across three games.

Poplar’s intangibles, including feel for the game and work ethic, intrigue teams and excite them with the combination of his jump shooting and strong decision-making abilities. Look for Wooga Poplar to rise up on draft boards in the coming weeks and months. He also has a growing pull-up jumper, which he can use in a variety of ways to set up, shown in the video above.

Bensley Joseph, Guard

While some of his habits last season felt detrimental to Miami at times, Bensley Joseph has been much-improved to start the season. His playmaking has popped, and his high-level shooting looks to be repeated once again as a junior. While not much of an NBA prospect, he can be a G League prospect and have a successful career overseas as a guard that doesn’t always need the ball in his hands to thrive.