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Oshae Brissett gains momentum at NBA Draft Combine

Brissett is drawing NBA eyes after going largely unnoticed though his inconsistent sophomore season with Syracuse.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Baylor vs Syracuse Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Tyus Battle entered the 2019 NBA Draft process having already undergone evaluation one year before. He declared his Syracuse Orange career finished after three seasons. He departed as one of the great scorers and clutch finishers in program history, and he quickly signed with Roc Nation to begin his professional career.

Battle and Oshae Brissett represent two vastly different prospects. Brissett tested the NBA waters in spite of an inconsistent sophomore season where he struggled to integrate the three into his game. He left the door open, and maintains the option to return to the Orange. Yet he propelled ahead of Battle at the G-League Elite Camp, reached the NBA Draft Combine, and appears on the cusp of getting selected — if he remains in the draft.

In Brissett, teams project a 20-year-old wing with size could shoot well enough to play the modern four position. He did not thrive in that position for Syracuse in 2018-19, where he said his offensive role changed. The potential he flashed in less than a week at the combine intrigued teams anyway about his potential for growth and success in a different system.

The 70 games Battle and Brissett paired up for at SU reflect how little the college tape matters when the balls roll onto the floor at the combine. The marquee talent — Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, RJ Barrett, etc. — is evident. For the rest of the international pool of talent, scrimmages reveal what players that are used to massive minutes and plenty of shot can provide in short bursts.

Brissett joined 10 other prospects from the G-League camp — all voted on by NBA teams — including Miami’s Dewan Hernandez who missed the entire 2018-19 season with eligibility concerns. Brian Bowen and Darius Bazley both entered the combine without a college game played.

Brissett threw down a vicious dunk and finished in transition in the combine’s scrimmages, but he transcended from what could be drawn from his Syracuse film through his involvement in passing sequences. He twice distributed the ball from the baseline, and remained active underneath to finish one of his best plays.

The scrimmages provided him a chance to run point forward in a pick-and-roll set, something that you would be hard-pressed to find in his SU film. It’s even more impressive considering these are random teams that he is not used to performing with. He shot 4-for-7 with 13 points and a pair of three-pointers in the final day of the combine.

Brissett is currently working with One Legacy Sports in Phoenix during the draft process, which for the first time allowed NBA prospects to hire agents and still remain NCAA-eligible. While he said he’ll wait until the May 29 deadline to decide if he will return to SU, his inclusion among the top-60 prospects in the combine, combined with an impressive scrimmage, projects well to him finding a team that will select him on June 20.

As Jonathan Givony noted, scrimmage performance played a role in Kevin Huerter, Josh Okogie and others rising up NBA Draft boards into the middle of the first round. Brissett’s possible selection would follow a season where he did not appear in any mock drafts.

Adam Zagoria reported that Brissett, in Phoenix (where his agency is headquartered), worked out for the Nets, Rockets, Thunder and 76ers with more expected to follow the combine. He quoted a NBA scout that said, “as long as he understands who he is, I think he’ll have a shot, especially with his size,” but thought he should return to Syracuse.

Battle’s decision to return to SU a year ago followed a far less triumphant combine showing. It also exhibited the risk of not striking while the iron is hot. At the G-League combine, he shot 1-for-3 with four points in a scrimmage, and failed to make the NBA Combine again.

For now, Brissett said he is processing all the information he received in the process. And trying to get his name spelled correctly.