Deuce McBride still has the option to return to WVU for another season, but a basketball analyst covering the NBA Draft Combine thinks the All-Big 12 guard is ready for the next level now.
As the combine continues in Chicago, Jon Chepkevich of The Analyst tells Gold and Blue Nation that he rates McBride as a solid first round pick. While the Cincinnati native could benefit from another year with Bob Huggins at WVU, he’d likely be passing up on guaranteed money by returning to college.
“If you are at a point that you can get yourself a guaranteed contract in the draft, and you feel certain of that, it’s usually in your best interest to go,” Chepkevich said.
Since announcing his decision to pursue the NBA Draft in April, a lot of things have gone McBride’s way to boost his draft stock — even down to measurements in the early stages of the combine, which began Monday. But there’s still a long way to go between the combine and the draft, with more key dates in between that will impact McBride’s future.
Latest Draft Projections
When West Virginia’s season ended in March, McBride was viewed as a potential second round pick. His popularity has soared since.
According to the latest mock drafts from Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, ESPN and Sports Illustrated, McBride has now solidified his stance as a first-round caliber player. Sports Illustrated rates him most highly at No. 26 to the Nuggets, while CBS tabs the guard as the No. 29 pick to the Suns. (Wouldn’t that be something if Deuce and Jevon Carter became pro teammates?) Most other mocks place McBride somewhere in that late-20s to No. 30 range.
Chepkevich, though, rates this Mountaineer even more favorably.
“For me, he’s a guy that I would consider as early in the late teens to early 20s, personally,” Chepkevich said.
That sounds pretty similar to how WVU guard Taz Sherman views his teammate:
WVU has not produced a first round pick in the NBA Draft since 2008, when Joe Alexander was selected by the Bucks at No. 8 overall. Jevon Carter, the most recent Mountaineer draft pick, was chosen early in the second round by the Grizzlies.
Chepkevich, who recently recorded a remote film session with McBride that will debut soon, admits he has been “super impressed” by the guard as a person during the draft process. His game also speaks for itself.
Chepkevich compares McBride’s game to that of Terry Rozier, who averaged 20.4 points and 4.2 assists per game during the 2020-21 NBA season for the Hornets. Rozier shot 45 percent from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc, while McBride shot 43 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3-point range for WVU last season.
Deuce’s trademarked midrange pull-up is one asset that makes him NBA-ready.
“He improved as a point guard, he can pass the ball. Later in the year when things were a little bit more spaced out, he really thrived in getting downhill, finding teammates and then having that quick stop-and-pop ability for his pull-up jumper,” Chepkevich said.
McBride’s defense is also earning him some attention.
“He’s just a menace on and off the ball, wrecking havoc and bringing that intensity, while also having a high IQ and knowing where to be at all times,” Chepkevich said.
McBride has an opportunity to showcase this skill set at the combine, which continues until June 27. Early returns from the week-long event are positive: he ranked in the top-five among guards in four strength and agility drills, including fourth in standing vertical leap (31.00) and max vertical leap (38.50).
Even his measurements garnered some buzz. His wingspan differential — the difference between measured wingspan and barefoot height — was +7.75 inches, among the best differentials of all combine participants.
“That in and of itself gets him off to a good start, testing well athletically to boot, and then once he gets into these scrimmages, he could potentially boost his stock even more,” Chepkevich said.
Sweetening the Deal
After climbing draft boards before the combine, McBride could solidify his status as a bona fide top-30 pick with a strong showing in Chicago. If he does end up staying in that category, he’ll be in line for a lucrative rookie contract.
According to NBA rookie pay scale figures compiled by Real GM, the median year one salary for a late first-round pick is around $1.6 million, with the potential of a salary jumping to $1.8 million or higher by year three. If McBride were to climb into the top 20, he could stand to make more than $2 million as a rookie, depending on the terms of his deal.
Even some second round picks will sign guaranteed deals this summer, meaning McBride is in a very good position.
“From my perspective, it seems like he probably should capitalize on where his stock is now and leave,” Chepkevich said. “I know that’s not what WVU fans want to hear, but from an honest, unbiased opinion, that is what I would think would best for him.”
One More Year?
This is the storyline many Mountaineer fans are locked in on. For obvious reasons, WVU faithful would love to see McBride back in Morgantown for one more season.
It’s a subject McBride has been relatively quiet on, sharing a vague answer with Andy Katz of Fox Sports when the reporter pressed him on the topic this week.
“Just continuing to get feedback from NBA teams, as well as talking to my family and coaches about the most information I can gather and making a great decision,” McBride told Katz on what might influence him.
McBride remains West Virginia’s most valuable potential roster piece. He led the team in scoring (15.9 ppg), assists (140) and steals (55) last season, dropping multiple 30-point performances in the process, including one in the NCAA Tournament.
If he does return, Bob Huggins will keep the majority of his 2020-21 roster in tact, with the exception of forward Derek Culver, who will pursue pro basketball after signing with an agent earlier in the spring. (This also assumes that guard Sean McNeil will return. McNeil is currently pursuing the draft, but is not a combine participant.)
So is there any chance Deuce runs it back with the Mountaineers after their disappointing exits from the Big 12 and NCAA Tournaments?
“There’s always a chance until it’s formally on paper, signing with a non-NCAA certified agent. I don’t believe he has officially inked such a contract yet,” Chepkevich said. “I think he’s being advised a little bit through the process and kind of waiting to see how things flesh out here in Chicago.”
If he does lock himself in for another collegiate season, Chepkevich thinks he could make some history.
“If he were to return,” he said, “I think he’d be one of the frontrunners for Big 12 Player of the Year.”
But there’s still that one huge caveat: McBride is in line for guaranteed money in the NBA, a deal that might be too good to pass up.
The NCAA early notification withdrawal deadline for this year’s draft is July 7.
Gold and Blue Nation’s Sam Coniglio contributed to this story.