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Report: UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman to declare for draft

UNLV New Mexico Basketball

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. (33) celebrates during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against New Mexico, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)


Late in the first round, if teams select a big man they are looking at a project they hope can develop into a quality rotation player down the line.

Meet UNLV’s seven-foot center Stephen Zimmerman.

He fits that category, and he is entering the draft, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Zimmerman, 19, plans to sign with an agent and eliminate the opportunity to withdraw and return to college basketball before the NCAA’s May 25 deadline, sources said.

A formal announcement is expected early this week....

NBA executives told The Vertical that Zimmerman, mobile, skilled and a good shot-blocker, has the potential to move into the top half of the draft with some strong performances in predraft workouts.

One of our college basketball experts, Rob Dauster of
College Basketball Talk, agrees that workouts are going to matter, because he is a raw player but one who may fit better in the NBA than college.

Zimmerman is an intriguing prospect in the sense that he is a mystery man for those that don’t follow high school hoops. A consensus top ten recruit, Zimm opted to stay home and play for UNLV, a team that was so bad their head coach was fired three games into league play. His numbers (10.5 points, 8.7 boards, 2.0 blocks) are decent enough, if not overly impressive, but he was a bad fit at UNLV. He’s not a dominant one-on-one scorer at this point in his development, but the 7-footer is a very capable passer out of the post that should be able to thrive in pick-and-pop and pick-and-roll NBA actions. There are tools there to build on. I think once teams get him in workouts -- and out of UNLV -- he’ll end up being selected higher than the late first round, which is where he’s currently projected.

Big men always climb in the draft. Don’t be surprised if he is picked just after the lottery.