Article by Brad Winton
Co-Owner/Director of Scouting at Elite Basketball Services/EBS Scouting
Throughout the remainder of the college season/leading up to the NBA Draft we will feature articles and interviews with many draft prospects. We recently featured the leading scorer at the NCAA D2 level, KJ Jones from Emmanuel College (GA), in our Sleeper Watch Series. We will now shift to a player who has seen his stock rise rapidly in his first year at the high-major level after transferring from Chipola College.
Nae’Qwan Tomlin by the numbers:
School: Kansas State
Class: Junior (JUCO transfer/Chipola College)
Current Stats: 10.3 PPG, 6 RPG, 1.1 SPG
Synergy PPP: 0.969
KenPom (Big 12 Play): Offensive Rating: 109.8, OR%: 9.1, True Shooting %: 55.8%, Blk%: 3,1
Kansas State forward, Nae’Qwan Tomlin, never played high school basketball and spent time at two different junior colleges prior to his arrival in Manhattan, KS. Our staff at EBS Scouting watched Tomlin numerous times throughout his junior college career. I watched Tomlin at Chipola College during the NJCAA regional tournament in Niceville, FL in March of 2022. Tomlin’s versatility was on full display as he poured in 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. He showed his potential to score inside and out while also being an extremely versatile defender. What was most noticeable was his fluidity, athleticism, length, and ability to sprint the floor at 6’10.
At the time, Tomlin was still unsigned and Jerome Tang had not yet been hired by Kansas State. Our JUCO Director of Scouting, Cody Hopkins, had Tomlin listed as one of the top available JUCO prospects in the country last Spring. Tomlin continued his strong play at the NJCAA D1 National Tournament in Hutchinson, KS (March 2022), and eventually visited Kansas State in late April before committing on May 2, 2022.
To say that Tomlin’s transition to high-major basketball has been smooth would be an understatement. As noted above, Tomlin never played in high school, played at two different JUCOs, and didn’t commit to Kansas State until well after his sophomore year of JUCO. This kind of impact is unheard of, especially on a Top 25 team in the loaded and talent-rich Big 12 Conference.
This season, Tomlin is averaging 10.6 PPG, 6 RPG, 1.2 SPG, and nearly 1 BPG. He has started every game since his arrival and is playing nearly 28 MPG. Tomlin has a long and thin frame but has added some strength since he arrived in Manhattan and has surprisingly handled the physicality of the Big 12 pretty well.
NBA scouts have started to take notice of Tomlin’s immediate impact and versatility on both ends. While Tomlin has been highly productive, he seems to have a ton of room for growth and improvement in his game and is only scratching the surface. This is somewhat rare for a 22-year-old prospect, but Tomlin is operating on a different timeline since he never played in high school and has only been at the high-major level for less than a year. Tomlin is shooting 27% from three but has shown flashes where he can knock down corner threes on kick outs and has solid shot mechanics with a high release point.
Tomlin is active away from the ball offensively, has an excellent feel for floor spacing, and finds open gaps/makes hard cuts to the ball. He has good hands and a soft touch around the rim to go along with plenty of length and athleticism. He has also shown the ability to handle the ball on the perimeter, in transition, and score off the bounce from the high post and beyond the three-point line.
Defensively, Tomlin anticipates well and uses his length and athleticism to get in passing lanes on the perimeter which often leads to easy transition offense. He is also a switchable defender who moves well laterally on the perimeter and can defend in the low post.
To have an understanding of Tomlin’s path to Kansas State, here is an excellent overview from K-State Sports on https://www.kstatesports.com/news/2022/9/27/sports-extra-tomlin-takes-road-less-traveled-to-major-college-basketball.aspx