Five underdog recruits who became 2019 NBA draft prospects

 espn.com  06/14/2019 11:25:20 

Ja Morant could have played in the SEC, but made the right choice to develop at Murray State. Michael Hickey/Getty Images
1:03 PM ET

The 2019 NBA draft is loaded with prospects who first made their way onto the national radar as high school All-Americans and were ranked among the ESPN 100's top prospects. Others will be selected on June 20 whose profile and skills were lesser known, and for a variety of reasons. Let's take an in-depth look at the development of the following five players, who were unranked as high school prospects, and their path to the next level.

Ja Morant, Murray State Racers (6-foot-3, 170 pounds) -- No. 2 in ESPN mock draft (June 10), No. 2 in NBA draft top 100

Not rated coming out of high school, Morant played with the likes of Zion Williamson and Nic Claxton during the summer, but with a slight build of 6-2, 150 pounds, he did not pass the high-major eye test. Morant played both on and off the ball, so to witness his point guard ability, you had to follow closely -- but his explosiveness, burst of speed and high basketball IQ caught the attention of some of the mid-majors. Sometimes thin and slight-of-frame kids get labeled, but I saw a toughness about him, along with a drive game and passing ability. Still, no one discerned this level of ability.

"The first time I watched him play, I was hoping we could get him," Murray State head coach Matt McMahon said. "I did believe he could be a NBA player, but not as fast as it happened."

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