Utah State’s Neemias Queta might be the college’s best chance to have a drafted prospect in nearly 50 years.
The last Utah State player picked in the NBA draft was Marv Roberts in 1971, but even he went in the third round — though at pick No. 45, it would have been in the second round today. Since then, while there have been some good players who have gone through Logan, not many of them have found their way to the NBA.
Desmond Penigar played in 10 games for the Orlando Magic in 2004, but he wasn’t drafted. Jaycee Carroll’s vaunted international career perhaps could have afforded him a chance to come to the NBA, but he chose to remain overseas. Jalen Moore opted to retire from basketball due to anxiety.
Queta might change that. A 6-foot-11, 225 pound center who came from Portugal, Queta has impressed NBA decision-makers with his ability to protect the rim and finish down low. He was the Mountain West Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year with a big impact, starting all 35 games for the Aggies as a 19-year-old. That level of production at that age, and with that size, tends to make NBA decision makers notice.
So Queta has moved up big boards recently. The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie has Queta ranked No. 45 on his big board, and Sports Illustrated’s April mock draft puts him in the first round, projected to go No. 29 to San Antonio. He’s perhaps not expected to make an impact right away, but has the tools needed to impress NBA decision-makers.
“He looked pretty good. He’s still a young kid, so he’s still got some things he needs to work on,” Walt Perrin, Jazz vice president of player personnel, said. "I think the one thing that impressed me a little bit is that he’s got a pretty good shooting touch, he’s not strictly a back to the basket player."
Queta, who was not made available to the media because he could still withdraw from the NBA draft and return to Utah State, did shoot five 3-point shots in his Aggie career, making two of them. He does sport only a 56.5% free-throw percentage, though, so he’ll have to work on that part of his game.
As you’d expect with a 19-year-old, there are improvements Queta must make to play at the NBA level.
“He’s still got a young body, so he’s going to have to get a lot stronger, he got pushed around a little bit today,” Perrin said. “But he acted well defensively. It was a good workout.”