4 winners from NBA combine

NBA Draft Combine
NBA personnel observed draft-eligible prospects in drills and scrimmages over the course of three days at Wintrust Arena.

By Ayanna Bronner
Medill Reports

The 2023 NBA combine has come to a close after a week of interviews, measurements, drills and scrimmages at Wintrust Arena in Chicago. These four players boosted their draft prospects.


Emoni Bates does a lay-up
A lay-up by Emoni Bates during Wednesday’s drills. (Ayanna Bronner/MEDILL)


Emoni Bates, 19, was the first sophomore to win the national Gatorade Player of the Year.

His height is 6-foot-8 without shoes, and he weighs 179 pounds. His wingspan is 6 feet, 9 inches, and his standing reach is 8 feet, 9 inches.

His shooting proficiency during Wednesday’s drills ranked among the best at the combine. In terms of free-throw percentage, he tied with eight other players with a 10-for-10 performance. 

Off the bounce and aggressively attacking the basket is when he’s at his best. But Bates must learn to be active without the ball. 

Despite being able to guard and handle the ball well, Bates needs to become more aggressive with his shots in the paint because defensively, stronger players are more challenging for him. 

While Bates is working hard to prove he belongs in the NBA through his shooting ability, the off-field issues he faced last fall might hurt his draft stock.

A traffic stop resulted in Bates’ arrest for felony charges of carrying a concealed weapon and altering firearm identification marks. His felony charges were dropped after he pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge.


Jordan Miller's vertical jump
Scouts watch Jordan Miller perform his standing vertical jump. (Ayanna Bronner/MEDILL)


Jordan Miller, 23, led his former team, Miami, to the Final Four with a perfect game in the Elite Eight against Houston.

His height is 6-foot-4 without shoes, and he weighs 192 pounds. His wingspan is 6 feet, 12 inches, and his standing reach is 8 feet, 8 inches.

Team Hines and Team Richman scrimmaged on Wednesday, and Miller led Team Hines to victory. 

He dominated the first scrimmage by shooting efficiently and filling many holes. He also played an important role as a connector between new teammates in a new environment.

Miller’s ability to affect the game across multiple areas cannot be underestimated. Among his 10 rebounds, three were offensive. In addition to making the right plays, he was also able to defend well.

Miller’s versatility can be used in more than one position, not just at shooting guard, but possibly a small forward or power forward as well.

“I think what I do best, right, is just being versatile, doing a little bit of everything, depending on what the team needs at the time,” Miller said. “I like being efficient whether I have the ball in my hands or not and just trying to help a team win. … In college, you know, sometimes they just pack it in, so just the spacing will help me operate more.”

Miller had 15 points and eight rebounds entering the fourth quarter. He ended the scrimmage with 18 points and 10 rebounds in 18 minutes.


Mojave King defends
During the 5v5 game, Mojave King can be seen wearing a blue jersey and defending in the middle of the field. (Ayanna Bronner/MEDILL)


Mojave King, the 20-year-old G-league Ignite prospect from New Zealand, has a reputation for being a good defender, which is exactly what the NBA is looking for.

His height is 6-foot-4, and he weighs 201 pounds. His wingspan is 6 feet, 8 inches, and his standing reach is 8 feet, 5 inches.

King is an active wing rebounder who handles the ball well. The shots he made were made possible by understanding spacing and moving to get open during Wednesday’s scrimmage.

In spite of King’s need for more consistency with his 3-point shot, scouts have not given up on him. It is critical for him to be equally adept at shooting off movement and while his feet are set.

A 6-of-7 shooting performance from the floor with 15 points showed King has a solid shooting ability. 

Attributed to his NBA positional size and length, King ranked second at the combine with a standing vertical jump of 42 inches.


Tristan Vukčević, the 20-year-old from Serbia, made a live impression after entering the combine as an underrated international prospect.

His height is 6-foot-11 without shoes, and he weighs 223 pounds. His wingspan is 7 feet, 2 inches,  and his standing reach is 9 feet, 3 inches.

Vukčević moves well for his size, stretches the floor and makes shots. Additionally, he can change and hold his pace well.

While his footwork may be decent, it still remains a concern since it contributes to players’ ability to be quick and agile on the court. Whether playing offense or defense, players can position themselves better and create more space for their shots

The first quarter ended with Vukčević leading all scorers with 12 points, after providing several critical scoring plays. The versatility of his defense enabled him to position himself well against his opponents in the perimeter. He ended Wednesday’s scrimmage with 21 points in 16 minutes.

The combination of Vukčević’s size and shooting ability makes him a very attractive prospect for the NBA Draft in 2023.

“I think my defense,” Vukčević said about what he needs to work on. “I think I got to work on that from day to day. I’m watching film, and it’s a learning process. I just have to be better at, you know, different positions. I played the five today … I’m happy for the five, I want to play the five. In Europe, they didn’t really want me to play the five, I believe, because of my physique. So I gotta work through that, and I think when I work on my physique, my defense will be great.”

Ayanna Bronner is a sports media graduate student at Medill. You can connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.