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Draft Express scouts Yankuba Sima’s potential

12th on their list of top NBA prospects, DX goes in on the skills and areas of improvement for St. John’s likely starting center.

NCAA Basketball: Providence at St. John's Yankuba Sima Ben Bentil Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The website Draft Express keeps solid tabs on possible breakout players in each of the major leagues, with an eye towards the NBA. And in going through the Big East, Yankuba Sima was the Red Storm player that was highest on the list at 12 (Kassoum Yakwe and Shamorie Ponds were honorable mentions).

Of course, those aren’t just kudos in there - Draft Express (DX) can be fairly straightforward if not harsh in their assessments of a player for the next level. And rightfully so - even the more limited NBA players have advanced skills in certain areas.

And we know that each of Chris Mullin’s players have a lot to work on.

Let’s look at the Yankuba Sima profile, in Top NBA Prospects in the Big East, Part Five: Prospects 9-13.


  • physically, good size for an NBA center if he gains the weight that his frame will hold
  • long wingspan; good shot-blocker
  • solid quickness


  • poor offensive numbers - limited scoring skill set, poor conversion rate around rim
  • a tendency to be low-impact/ drift through parts of the game
  • undisciplined defender/ defensive rebounder

The Rumble’s take

Most of these issues track with what we have said about Sima on the Rumble. He has potential. His shot blocking is solid, but it’s always important to remember that blocked shots look good, but they’re only a part of an effective defense. (Consider that the two best shot-blocking teams in the Big East last season were 9th and 8th in overall defense; the three worst shot blocking teams were 4th, 3rd, and 5th.)

Sima struggled to defend in the paint, with the coaches sending help in the form of double teams. Those double teams left open perimeter players, and coupled with some slow reaction times, allowed for slashing drives and open threes from opponents.

We would expect better conversion around the rim for Sima, with more offensive weapons on the floor and a year of experience.

But even in the Under-20 European Championships, Sima struggled at times to make an impact on the defensive glass or on offense. Comfort and a relentless approach to getting the ball are keys to a sophomore leap from Sima. He has the raw physical tools to be very good in the league - and perhaps beyond.