I was hoping to grab ESPN college basketball writer/insider Andy Katz for my Nate Wolters feature that ran last week.
Unfortunately, the guy is a busy man. I finally got him on the phone late last week and had a good conversation about Wolters. Katz is more than impressed with the St. Cloud Tech graduate.
Katz thinks that the South Dakota State point guard has a great chance at being drafted this coming June.
“I think it’s relative to the draft,” Katz said. “If he came out during a different year, you might get a different answer from me. This will be one of the weakest drafts in terms of depth the NBA has had in years. He has a legit shot in June, there’s no doubt about that.
“I keep hearing positive things about his potential because of his ability to score in so many ways. He’s a winner. But it would be premature of me to say where he’ll be drafted, in any form.”
NBA scouts have come out pretty heavily to watch Wolters play this year, especially when SDSU played in a Thanksgiving Classic at Hofstra University in New York. That, Katz says, is a very positive sign.
“Step 1 for scouts is trying to find a good time to see him,” Katz said. “He’s a guy outside of a lot of radars because of where he plays. Scouts like to justify themselves by finding people like that, whether it’s at small schools or internationally. When a team drafts him, the scouts will claim them as their own and say they went off the beaten path.
“It doesn’t really matter where he plays. As long as you help your team make the NCAA Tournament, that’s what matters.”
Katz’s biggest concern about Wolters is his defense. Another concern will be Wolters’ three-point shooting, which dropped off to 24 percent last year, but has risen to 38.9 percent this season.
“The big question for NBA personnel decision-makers will be if he can defend his position at a high level,” he said.
Katz admits to not hearing about Wolters until last season when South Dakota State was making their run to the NCAA Tournament. His big performance in a win at Washington last December is what first got experts like Katz to notice.
“He controls the ball so well for them,” Katz said. “Plus, everyone is always looking for a guy to take the big shot and make it. He does that while making his team better. He does all of that at a very high level.”
Wolters’ name gets tossed around a lot with former BYU All-American Jimmer Fredette. But anyone who has watched Wolters play knows well that they are two different players. Wolters is not a pure shooter like Fredette, he’s a playmaker and creater off the dribble.
“Jimmer had to have the ball in his hands, but he was a shooter,” Katz said. “Wolters is a playmaker and creates more. His passing abilities are what sets him apart from others.”
Wolters returned to the South Dakota State lineup last night and led the Jackrabbits to a 68-63 win over CSU-Bakersfield. Wolters had 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists after missing two games with an ankle injury.