As always, Ben Steele of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel brings the heat. He’s got all the connections that you could possibly want, and that’s why he’s the one who heard first, straight from the man himself, that Marquette men’s basketball forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper has been invited to the 2023 NBA Draft Combine.
Olivier-Maxence Prosper tells me that he has officially gotten invited to the NBA Draft Combine next week in Chicago.— Ben Steele (@BenSteeleMJS) May 9, 2023
The 6-8 forward from Marquette - with a 7-1 wingspan - fits the profile of three-and-D players who are coveted in the league. #mubb
The 2023 NBA Draft Combine will be held in Chicago between May 15th and May 21st. The invitation list for the Combine is set by way of request from the NBA teams and their front offices, with each team submitting a list of the players they want to see and the league making sure that the most requested draft prospects are invited. The official list of invitees is not public at this point, although I presume that the league is confirming everyone’s attendance before releasing the list just to avoid any questions. Last year, when Marquette’s Justin Lewis was invited to the Combine but was not drafted, 76 players were invited. We’ll have to wait to see what the final number is for 2023, but keep in mind that it is a 58 player draft this year because there was some free agency tomfoolery penalties handed out.
Olivier-Maxence Prosper started every game for Marquette in 2022-23 as the Golden Eagles won a Big East regular season and tournament championship. The 6’8”, 230 pound Canadian averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, and fell just short of averaging a steal per game as well. Both his scoring and his rebounding was up from his first year in Milwaukee, but part of that might just be playing an extra eight minutes per game on average. It also might have to do with the fact that he increased his shooting percentage both overall — 46% to 51% — and behind the three-point line — 32% to 34% — from his sophomore year to his junior year.
From a 30,000 foot view, no, it doesn’t make a ton of sense that Prosper is this close to becoming an NBA Draft pick. He’s not the MU player that was named Big East Player of the Year (Tyler Kolek), he didn’t lead the team in scoring (Kam Jones), he didn’t lead the team in rebounding (Oso Ighodaro), and so on, you get the idea. However, Prosper is a tantalizing mix of physicality, athleticism, and basketball skills, and that’s why he was at the Latin America NBA Academy in the first place. In fact, his status as a star in his role on Marquette’s roster this season might actually work in his favor in terms of NBA Draft potential, as scouts and general managers have already seen him work with other players for a greater good inside of a team structure. It definitely doesn’t hurt his chances that MU’s offense and defense was better when he was on the floor, and not just by a little, either. If he can guard bigs occasionally, chase around mobile guys regularly, and hit corner threes with frequency, Prosper can stick in the league. The question remains whether or not that’s worth spending a draft pick on relative to other options.
I would imagine that being invited to the Combine increases the odds that Prosper will stay in the Draft as opposed to returning to Marquette for the 2023-24 season. It will depend on what he’s hearing from decision makers at the Combine and in the immediate aftermath, as he has effectively until the end of the month to withdraw from the Draft and maintain his collegiate eligibility.
The NBA Draft Combine usually gets some kind of television coverage package every year, and I would presume this year is no different. We’ll pass those details on to you as soon as we see them, so keep your eyes open next week.