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Former Utah State center Neemias Queta says he is playing the best basketball of his career in advance of the NBA draft

Queta is on his second NBA Combine and says his confidence is at an all-time high.

Utah State center Neemias Queta (23) dunks the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Boise State Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021 at ExtraMile Arena in Boise, Idaho. (Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman via AP)

Neemias Queta tried the NBA Combine once before. The experience was valuable to him, teaching the now former Utah State center what he needed to improve so he could potentially get drafted.

Queta eventually decided to return to the Aggies for his junior season. And after a season where he was named Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year by the Mountain West Conference, he decided to again declare for the NBA draft.

This time around, though, Queta has more confidence than ever.

“I haven’t played this good of basketball in a long time — never actually,” Queta said. “I’m playing my best basketball ever, so I’m just trying to take advantage of it and keep it going, keep the streak going.”

The most recent Bleacher Report mock draft has Queta going in the second round with the 57th overall pick. That pick currently belongs to the Charlotte Hornets.

Queta said he’s talked to four teams so far: the Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks. He hasn’t done any individual workouts yet, he said.

The games that Queta has played in the combine have been somewhat structured in terms of calling set plays. But mostly, the players are playing freely, playing off each other, and working in transition for early offense.

Queta measured as the tallest player at the Combine at 6 feet, 11 1/4 inches without shoes. He also had the longest wingspan at 7 feet, 4 inches. He led the NCAA in blocks in his junior year.

But Queta may not even be the considered the best shot blocker in the upcoming NBA draft. Evan Mobley of USC is getting that buzz.

Queta wants to make sure teams take notice of his elite rim protection.

“Whatever situation comes in front of me, I’m just going to attack it and try to prove people wrong,” Queta said. “I feel like I’m the best shot blocker in this draft, so I just have to go in there and just show it.”

Queta’s game is predicated on defense, but he also has the ability to shoot a midrange jump shot and has good touch around the rim. The one thing he’s yet to develop is a consistent 3-point shot — a skill that is virtually required of big men in today’s NBA.

But Queta feels the long-range jumper will come, and that he has to work on making plays for teammates with his passing in various situations. He mentioned that current NBA players after which he models his game include Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat and Clint Capela of the Atlanta Hawks.

“I feel that in time, I’ll be able to become a really effective modern big in the NBA,” Queta said.


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