Markquis Nowell NBA Mock Draft scouting report: Kansas State’s undersized guard looks to carve NBA path

Kansas State basketball is fun. Point guard Markquis Nowell is a big reason for that.

Nowell, a Third Team All-American and First Team All-Big 12 performer, led the Wildcats on an electric run in March. Despite being one of the shortest players in college basketball, Nowell is averaging 17.1 points, 7.8 assists and 2.4 steals per game this season, filling the stats chart nightly.

Without Nowell’s contributions as a goalscorer and playmaker, K-State would not be where it is now.

As influential as he was in college, is there a place for Nowell at the NBA level? The Sporting News examines the draft profile of the electrifying playmaker from Kansas State.

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Strengths by Markquis Nowell

If you watch a Kansas State game, you’ll quickly see that one of Nowell’s greatest strengths is his passing ability.

This season, Nowell ranks second in all of Division 1 with 7.8 assists per game and the highest single-season assists average in school history. His 266 assists in the Sweet 16 is 80 more than any other wildcat in a single season.

Nowell’s playmaking is as eye-catching as he is practical, dishing out dazzling passes while maintaining an assist-to-turnover ratio of more than 2:1. Not only does his pass bring his teammates into the game, but it also brings energy into the game and can add momentum to the game.

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Come for impermanence and stay for heart.

Nowell is averaging a career-best 17.1 points per game this season and is easily one of the most fearless players in the nation. Take his game-winning praise in the clip above as an example of how no moment is too big for the senior.

His two massive 3-pointers, designed to help guide K-State past Kentucky, serve as another reminder.

During his five-year college career, Nowell is a 35.1 percent 3-point shooter. Last season was normal for the course, scoring 35.1 percent on just under seven tries per game.

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Weaknesses of Markquis Nowell

In terms of his NBA prospect, Nowell’s greatest weakness is his 5’8 frame and his age. In a draft class led by 18- and 19-year-olds, Nowell turns 24 on Christmas.

Although we’re only six years away from Isaiah Thomas’ MVP season, the NBA hasn’t been kind to most players under 6 feet in recent years. College stars such as Chris Clemons (5-9), Carsen Edwards (5-11) and Tremont Waters (5-10) competed for a spot in the league. Facundo Campazzo (5-10), the NBA’s shortest player in the 2022-23 season, was released a month into the year.

Thomas’ career is a reminder that heart is immeasurable, but Nowell’s size prevents him from saying it would make him a defensive liability and limit him offensively.

On defense, opposing teams would likely put Nowell in screen-and-roll situations to switch him to bigger players. On offense, Nowell’s size will prevent him from landing between the trees.

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To be a plus offensively, he would need to do more than just pass — a shot close to or over 40 percent from 3-point range would be a start.

Sometimes, Nowell’s ability to pass can have a downside.

While it’s true, it’s easy to say that some flashy passes lead to turnovers. Of more concern than the turnovers are the passes, which see Nowell putting his teammates in a position where they may not be able to play.

This wouldn’t be such a big deal when surrounded by NBA talent, but the habit itself is one that needs to be broken.

Markquis Nowell NBA Mock Draft Projection

Mock Draft projection: undrafted

Ultimately, the weaknesses associated with Nowell’s size and age will negatively impact his design. The league has shifted toward a larger point guard prototype, and teams are unlikely to use a draft pick for a player of Nowell’s stature.

Still, Nowell is a prime candidate for an NBA Summer League invite and could make his presence felt from there and earn his way into a training camp by refuting that his limitations will be a factor.

In recent years, a number of undrafted players have earned mutual contracts and carved their own way into the league. Jose Alvarado of New Orleans is a great example.

Markquis Nowell NBA Player Comparison

Plays like: Tyler Ulis

Ulis’s NBA career wasn’t going well, but he was a problem as an undersized guard in Kentucky. Poetically, Nowell helped lead the Wildcats past Kentucky, with Ulis on the sidelines as a science assistant.

Nowell is a much better playmaker but shows the same courage that paved the way for Ulis to be drafted 34th in the 2016 NBA draft. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Nowell says on record that he grew up idolizing Ulis and emulating his game.

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