NBA scouts question Houstan’s, Diabate’s decisions to leave Michigan after one year

The Michigan men’s basketball team has four players eligible for the NBA Draft this week. But if NBA scouts called the shots, only two of the Wolverines would be in the draft’s pool of players.

Speaking with The Athletic in a series of “brutally honest” comments about draft prospects, scouts were fairly harsh on Caleb Houstan’s and Moussa Diabate’s decisions to remain in the NBA Draft pool after both had up-and-down seasons with the Wolverines. Though both were five-star recruits, neither averaged better than 11.0 points per game, and played key roles in Michigan’s in-season struggles that resulted in the Wolverines barely making the NCAA Tournament as an 11-seed before making a surprise run to the Sweet Sixteen.

Houstan, a top-10 recruit in the 2021 247Sports Composite, received the most criticism. The 6-foot-8 wing is commonly projected as a top-40 NBA Draft prospect, but not every scout agrees with the assessment.

“Should have gone back to school. He didn’t have a good year,” The Athletic reported. “He was overwhelmed at times out there. He doesn’t have one thing that really jumps out at you. He just doesn’t have the foot speed yet and he’s got a slow shot. He’s not a great athlete, a little heavy-legged. I love his stroke, it looks great, it just never goes in. I watched him three times this year and he never played well. He’s missing the toughness piece. He’s a basketball-IQ and high-character guy. I wonder about his competitiveness. He has a very scary lack of confidence in his shooting.”

While Diabate is seen as having a higher athletic ceiling than Houstan and, frankly, most other NBA Draft prospects, the forward is viewed as much more raw by NBA scouts. The 6-foot-11 forward was inconsistent as a scorer in Michigan’s 2021-22 season, and like Houstan, underwhelmed scouts watching him closely after his successful high school career.

“I was surprised he left Michigan. Really really raw,” The Athletic’s sources wrote. “He’s another guy that doesn’t really have anything that translates. He’s good around the goal but he’s got a lot of work to do. He’s really limited as an offensive player, but he’s long and he has defensive versatility. He makes some good reads, but I wouldn’t say he has a high basketball IQ. He’s not gonna get rebounds in traffic. I’d rather see him go back to school, but he’s got big upside.”

In addition to Diabate and Houstan, Michigan starters Eli Brooks and DeVante’ Jones will also await their professional futures this week. The NBA Draft takes place Thursday, with two-way and undrafted free agent signings expected to occur as soon as late Thursday night.

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