(The Daily Advertiser) – It remains to be seen if he will be selected in Thursday night’s NBA Draft.
Many mock drafts suggest it may not happen.
But whether Shawn Long is selected or not, UL coach Bob Marlin thinks the former Ragin’ Cajuns big man and the 2015-16 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year deserves – and will get – a shot at making an NBA roster.
“He’s an outstanding rebounder,” Marlin said of Long, a Morgan City High product who played four seasons at UL after transferring from Mississippi State.
“I think if you do one skill really well,” Marlin added, “that (can) translate into an opportunity to play at the next level.”
The UL coach need look no farther than another ex-Cajun now playing in the NBA for evidence of that.
Orlando point guard Elfrid Payton was a lottery pick, the No. 10 overall selection, in the 2014 NBA Draft. He averaged 10.7 points and 6.4 assists per game for the Magic this past season.
“Elfrid’s (skill) was his penetration – his ability to live in the paint,” Marlin said. “We told NBA guys that when they called – that ‘this young man can get the ball to the paint; he can do it against grown men.’ ”
Long’s primary NBA-quality skill, in Marlin’s mind?
“Shawn Long can rebound the basketball, and he can do it against pros,” the Cajun coach said. “There’s no doubt in my mind.”
The numbers seem to show it, too.
Long led the Sun Belt in scoring (18.9 points per game), rebounds (12.1 per game) and blocked shots (1.8 per game) as a senior in 2015-16.
He completed his college career as both UL’s and the SBC’s all-time rebounding leader with 1,447 boards, and his 411 rebounds this past season tied late Cajun great Roy Ebron – a former ABA player, and a one-time New York Knicks draft pick – for the second-best single-season total in in UL history, trailing only ex-ABA player Elvin Ivory’s 500 in 166-67.
Long also was UL’s career leader in blocks (273), games started (131) and double-doubles (75), and his double-double count ranked 12th-best in NCAA history.
The Associated Press honorable mention All-American wound up third in UL history in scoring with 2,342 points, trailing only former NBA players Bo Lamar and Andrew Toney.
As much as Marlin pitches Long’s rebounding ability, Long seemingly is trying to sell himself as a big man who can shoot too.
Asked last month by the Denver Nuggets’ website about his main focus during pre-draft workouts, Long said it was “just showing that I can shoot the ball.”
But he also touts his ability on the boards.
“I think that will separate me from most bigs – my ability to shoot the ball and rebound and mix it up down low,” Long told Philly.com after working out for the 76ers.
“I believe I can stretch the floor but also defend bigs down low and rebound,” he told the Nuggets’ website when asked how he saw himself potentially fitting into Denver’s roster. “That’s one of my biggest assets, rebounding the ball.”
According to multiple reports and his own comments, Long at one time or another either planned to or did work for several NBA teams – including but not necessarily limited to Philadelphia, Denver, Milwaukee, Houston, Dallas, the Los Angeles Lakers, Utah, Washington, Boston and, last week, the New York Knicks.
The buzz about him has not been nearly as loud as it was for Payton in the weeks leading up to the 2014 draft.
But Long has received some favorable reviews during his pre-draft workouts.
“I call him a stretch five, stretch four,” Sixers vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley told Philly.com. “He has the ability to go out make a shot. The other thing that he does well is that he can take you off the dribble. He utilizes a pump fake well.”
“He averaged a double-double in all four of his seasons with the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, and has 3-point range on his jump shot,” the Knicks-focused website Fansided reported. “Also a quality shot-blocker, Long is the complete package as a player who can protect the rim, rebound, space the floor, and play from the post.”
Although he was not invited to the NBA Pre-Draft Combine, Marlin is confident Long – who played last summer for USA Basketball’s Pan-Am Games team – will got his shot to prove all of it true.
“He’s gonna have an opportunity, hopefully, to play at the next level,” the Cajun coach said.