We witnessed history this past season at the University of Notre Dame. Blake Wesley, a four-star recruit right down the road in South Bend, Indiana, became the first Fighting Irish one-and-done prospect in school history.
When Wesley first joined Notre Dame’s program, the expectation for him wasn’t to be a one-year stint. However, he found the ideal opportunity with the Irish to showcase his unique two-way skill set on an extremely high usage rate.
Wesley averaged 14.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.3 steals while also carrying a 31.3% usage rate on the offensive end. Flashing enticing potential on both ends of the court as a microwave scorer and on-ball defender, Wesley quickly caught the attention of NBA scouts. After officially keeping his name in the 2022 NBA Draft, Wesley is projected to go in the first round. And for a prospect like Wesley, slipping to the late-first could be the best-case scenario for his own long-term development.
As a super-charged role player with way less offensive burden compared to his stint at Notre Dame who could grow into much more, Wesley brings attributes to the table that could make him an immediate plug-and-play rotation piece in the NBA.
In BasketballNews.com's latest 2022 Mock NBA Draft from Sr. NBA Draft Analyst Matt Babcock, Wesley is slotted at No. 24 overall by the Milwaukee Bucks. Wesley also recently began his pre-draft workout circuit with the Denver Nuggets earlier this week, and there’s more on tap with many teams in the mid-late first-round range.
Wesley’s versatility and continued improvement rounding out his offensive package could soon make him a valuable NBA commodity, according to Babcock:
Blake Wesley wasn’t a five-star recruit or an All-American, unlike most one-and-done prospects. However, throughout his freshman season at Notre Dame, he was impressive. Head coach Mike Brey put the ball in Wesley’s hands right off the bat, putting him in a situation to produce, which he did by averaging 14.4 points per game. At 6-foot-4, Wesley is a versatile guard who can score on all three levels and possesses potential as a defender. His outside shooting is sporadic, but I think he could have a productive NBA career if he can tighten that up and continue improve his overall game.
The one big area of concern for Wesley entering into the professional level is his consistency from three-point range. Wesley finished his freshman campaign with a subpar 49.5% True Shooting percentage, and a lot of it had to do with his 30.3% clip beyond the arc, plus inconsistent finishing inside.
“Yeah, I did not shoot the ball good in March. March was my biggest challenge. I went 5-of-28 in two games, so that’s not good,” Wesley said of his late-season shooting woes. “Just the way it is, everybody goes through slumps. It’s just how are you going to respond and get back in the gym.”
At the NBA Draft Combine, Wesley mentioned he’s gained 9 pounds since the end of his freshman season, bringing him up to 190. Added strength to go along with Wesley’s 6-foot, 9.25-inch wingspan will make his transition much smoother trying to defend lead ball-handlers.
“I feel like I’m more comfortable defending the 2 and a little 1, it doesn’t matter,” Wesley said. “I prefer like the 1 to guard the best guy, so probably the 1.”
Wesley checks a lot of the boxes teams are looking for in the modern NBA thanks to his quick-twitch burst and capable defensive ability. If Wesley is able to become a more consistent scoring threat, we could be discussing a few years down the road that the Notre Dame guard was one of this year’s biggest draft steals.