Sports

Marshall forgoes senior season, heads to pros

Analyzing the wing’s potential as a second-round prospect in the NBA Draft

Xavier forward Naji Marshall has officially declared for the NBA after signing a non-NCAA certified agent. According to some mock drafts, the 6-foot-7 small forward could be selected in the late stages of the second round come June.

Xavier’s top scorer from the 2019-20 season, junior forward Naji Marshall, has officially declared for the NBA Draft this upcoming June after signing with a non-certified NCAA agent. This effectively waived his eligibility for next season, as he decided to forego his senior season with the Musketeers. 

Marshall went through a similar process last offseason but only tested the waters before eventually returning for his junior year at Xavier.

This past season, Marshall showcased significant improvement. His scoring average on a per game basis increased by 2.1 points. 

Marshall’s field goal and 3-point percentages both saw improvements, with his field goal percentage taking a near 5% jump. 

An already promising rebounder, Marshall also improved his assist total to 4 per game, an impressive mark for a forward. Pacing the team in points, assists and steals, Marshall was a visible leader on the floor.

Marshall was named to the first-team All-Big East in his junior year, only the third Xavier player to do that since 2014. 

He was also a top five finisher for the nationwide 2020 Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award. Marshall joined Xavier’s 1,000-point club on Jan. 8 versus Seton Hall and finished the season as Xavier’s 28th leading scorer of all time.

Heading into the NBA Draft, Marshall is a projected late second-round pick on several mock boards. NBA Scouting Live has him ranked as the No. 68 player on their top 100 list. In a similar position, Marshall is currently slotted as the No. 71 pro prospect on both the latest ESPN and “The Athletic’s” draft boards.

His athleticism and playmaking ability are at the top of the list for scouts as his biggest pros. Long-bodied wing players are a hot commodity in the NBA, especially those who can defend. 

Marshall’s ability to force turnovers as well as his quick feet will prove valuable to teams looking to find gems late in the draft. 

He will likely need to improve his 3-point and free throw shooting, as having a 3-point field goal percentage in the high 20’s is not good enough for the NBA these days, especially for forwards who are often asked to space the floor.  His free throw shooting in college hovers right around NBA league average, but there is of course some room for improvement.

“The Athletic’s” Sam Vecenie said this about Marshall’s makeup as a player: “He does almost everything you could ask for from a wing outside of shooting it … He can drive and attack, both in early offense and in the halfcourt … He does a good job of finding teammates with high-level looks. The only issue here is shooting consistency. If Marshall can become a 38% 3-point shooter, he has a shot at the first round.”

All in all, Marshall is a prospect with a ton of upside. Don’t be surprised if he is seen playing meaningful minutes for an NBA team within the next few years.

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