The 2017 NBA Draft is set to take place Thursday night and two former Notre Dame Fighting Irish standout will look to either hear their name be called out or to sign with a club following the draft.
But if you were to look up some NBA mock drafts, you will find that majority of these predictions leave Steve Vasturia and VJ Beachem out of the draft.
It may be shocking to see these two names off of NBA mock draft lists considering they helped lead Notre Dame to their first conference championship in program history, back to back elite eights, 12 conference wins in 2016 in what some may say is the most challenging conference in the nation and another trip to the ACC conference final.
Vasturia and Beachem even held their own against top prospects like North Carolina’s Justin Jackson, Duke Blue Devil’s Luke Kennard and Florida State Seminoles’ Jonathan Isaac.
So what is the problem then?
Both players bring a lot of strengths, but also bring limitations that hold them back from being higher up on the draft board.
Steve Vasturia finished his senior year at Notre Dame starting all 36 games, averaging 13.1 points per game, shooting 43.3% from the field and making 91 of 100 free throw shots. Incredible.
While Vasturia did not shoot nearly as well as he did back in 2014-15; the season that saw Notre Dame come seconds away from upsetting Kentucky in the Elite Eight; Steve has developed into more of a versatile player than what he started out as.
Steve went from being a player back in 2013 that you would be hesitant to put in, to a guy you couldn’t take off the floor. because he simply makes every one better. He was the most productive player on offensive, coming up with big shots to give the Irish momentum and driving through traffic, showing off his improved athleticism.
However with everything said, the one thing that will make general managers question whether he can play at the next level is his athleticism. Compared to other prospects and NBA players, Vasturia doesn’t possess the speed, quickness and athleticism needed to be successful in the league.
VJ Beachem on the other hand finished his final year at Notre Dame starting all 36 games in 2016-17, averaging 14.5 points per game with a 42.2% field goal percentage.
Beachem slowly started to become a key player as certain players like Jerian Grant, and Pat Connaughton graduated. He possesses a smooth shot that is deadly when he is feeling it.
Last year, after his best season at Notre Dame that saw him shoot 47.6% from the field and 44.4 from 3-point range, Beachem declared for the draft but didn’t sign an agent, allowing him to return to school after he received a draft grade.
Beachem participated in last years combine, received criticism from scouts and eventually returned for his senior year. A major criticism on Beachem was his lack of versatility. Scouts wanted to see him be more than just a shooter.
One thing that did hold VJ back from being an elite player was his consistency, which will be a red flag to NBA scouts and general managers. Beachem had a tendency of dominating some games, scoring 30 plus points, to going cold in other games.
So where will these two former Notre Dame stars land?
If I were to guess, my bet will be that both prospects will go un-drafted and will sign free agent deals once the draft has concluded.
Both Steve and VJ have been working out with various NBA teams with Vasturia receiving a try-out from his home town team, the Philadelphia 76ers and the New York Knicks while Beachem has worked out with the Los Angeles Lakers, Atlanta Hawks, and the San Antonio Spurs.
I foresee that both of these prospects will benefit from playing in the D-League to develop and refine their skills. I predict Vasturia and Beachem will perform well in the summer league but it won’t be enough to convince general managers and head coaches that they are ready to play with the big boys.
It is difficult to say which team specifically is the best fit for Vasturia and Beachem, but regardless the NBA is becoming a little more Irish.
– R. Scarfone